Throughout the week, the TMMData team met with numerous Tableau Software users who eagerly quizzed us about our solutions to ease their manual data prep pain, and joined us for our twice-daily, packed-booth data management platform demonstrations.
As we settled back in the office this week – still basking in the glow of meeting so many smart, fun, passionate data visionaries – we asked TMMData Tableau Specialist, Tableau Qualified Associate Sean Petrick, to reflect on his experiences at TC15:
The conference started off with a heavy appetizer in the form of the Developers on Stage keynote. Tableau’s software developers stood and demonstrated to us new features coming to Tableau by the end of 2016 including new ways to combine disparate data sources, frankly extraordinary date format recognition, and several new analytics tools for identifying outliers, Bayesian cluster analysis, and spatial analysis. At the end of the keynote after taking us through a visualized trip in search of Earth-like planets and across the country to show off new mapping tools Tableau launched their new iOS app, Vizable. Vizable is an interesting little tool that provides a hint into what data visualization on the go might look like. While it’s ultimately limited in scale, and, more importantly, to iPads, as a sign of what of what could be yet to come it’s extremely impressive.
The main course of the conference was the expert panels where attendees were taught the ways of the Force by Tableau employees, clients, and Zen Masters. One presenter showed how to use Tableau 9’s new Level of Detail calculations to create previously undreamt of visualizations while another showed R being used to with some clever SQL and bin manipulations to create new, asymmetric, data. Most of the panels were interested in creating Jedi to serve the light side of data visualization, but as with any group there were a few Sith mixed. Presenters Jinbar Nomix and Darth Flashypants showed off the dark side by manipulating Tableau into doing things that users might want that violate best practices across the board.
If the panels were the main course then the remaining four keynotes were the desserts. Dr. Hannah Fry expounded on the power of data to help mathematicians model real world questions involving crime and other spatial phenomena. Daniel Pink spoke on motivation in modern America. Sir Ken Robinson told us a little bit about almost everything. As possibly the main event we had Neil deGrasse Tyson who took us on a journey through science in American Cinema, then spoke for forty five minutes beyond his scheduled time to answer audience questions about everything from data interpretation and astrophysical advancements to the political arena of education and science based policy.
The Expo Hall was the meal’s open bar, and not just because there was frequently an open bar there. It was consistently busy with business cards changing hands faster than the chips in the casino. If you wanted to find someone to talk to and share your stories with there was no better place to go. There was an endless stream of attendees participating in demos, signing up for giveaways, and trying to find companies to fill the missing needs in their day to day operations. To me it felt a lot like being in the dealer room of a mid-sized fan convention. Since the conference included Back to the Future Day, which was also the day that Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke, there were even a few people in costume. The only thing that was missing was piles of books, comics, and figurines for sale at every booth.
By the time the conference ended and everyone was headed home the world was up more than a few newly minted Jedi, and a few fewer new Sith. Tens of thousands of business cards were sent to new homes, and everyone was a little bit smarter and better connected than they were on October 18. Here’s to a new year of data visualization as we move towards Tableau 2016.