Tableau Software consumerizes data analysis with Project Elastic

Tableau is working on a new iPad app designed for anyone to use.

Data analysis software vendor Tableau is developing a new iPad app that might solve one of the problems the company faces with expanding its reach.

Tableau has grown quickly, racking up 20,000 customers. But it has a drawback in today's environment where individual workers want to quickly get started with new tools. Tableau is available as an app on your desktop or via a server product. It requires a big upfront investment to get started.

The new app, which Tableau is calling Project Elastic, is targeted at individuals, Tableau told GigaOm. That means anyone in a business can download the app and see how it might help them better make sense of data.

Tableau's Dave Story, vice president of mobile, demonstrated the app this morning at the annual Tableau Conference in Seattle. He took a data file listing sales information about a local sandwich shop that had been attached to an email and opened it in the Elastic app. It immediately opened with a view of a chart showing categories of products sold at the café, from biggest seller to smallest.

The app has been nicely designed for touch. Dragging a category to the left removes it from the list. Dragging the list name in this case, category to the left scrolls through different options, like days of the week or sales based on breakfast, lunch or dinner. A similar action lets the user switch from sales total to average. A few more swipes, and Story demonstrated how to see what are the top sellers at lunch on Monday.

He also demonstrated a graph view and ways that users can drill down and quickly change the graph to see what they're looking for. Users can also hit a button to share the graph with others via email.

Story said the app works well even with very large volumes of data. He created and changed graphs that depicted 64 years of daily observations of sunspots and the app worked quickly and easily.

Storey didn't say when such an app might be available or for how much. He also didn't say what kind of data or in what format Elastic will be able to interpret.

While Elastic is a step in the right direction for Tableau to open its doors to new users, it also might create problems for Tableau. The company already has to be careful to enable feature parity across its desktop and server products as well as an existing iPad app. Elastic appears to be designed as a separate product so Tableau likely doesn't feel it needs to have the same features. But it should have a similar look and feel.

Elastic puts Tableau in competition with other cloud based data visualization tools like Chartio.

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