Yeah it’s 2am and I’m wide awake. Coming down from a great week at Tableau Conference 2015 in Las Vegas. So I thought I’d knock up a post about how the week was for me.
Thought #1 – “WTF?!”
Turning up for registration on the Sunday, the last thing I expected to see was an 8 foot high poster of my ugly mug grinning out at me. I saw some younger children at the event and they would surely have nightmares at such an image. Then there’s the question of my image rights… Tableau we need to talk about that…
Although it did allow people to get their #picwiththepauls
Thought #2 – “Wow it’s so great to meet you at last / again”
TC is all about the people. It was great to meet people that I’ve been interacting with all year. Some of these were existing relationships, and others were meeting for the first time. Too many to name but I was really pleased to finally meet George Gorczynski, Steve Fenn, Mat Hughes, Jen Vaughan, Fiona Gordon, Jon Boeckenstedt, Ken Black ( & Jett) & Mike Moore.
It’s great when I meet someone that deals with Server rather than all you Desktop jockeys. See us Server folk have a secret handshake and knowing look in our eyes. We know what really matters in Tableau!
Thought #3 – “The devs smashed it”
I was delighted at the product enhancements announced this year. Functionality that is really going to make a difference to the ~4000 users I support.
It will be interesting to see which features really capture the imagination of my user base, but I can anticipate cross DB joining, union & global filters being very popular, as well as the user home page on server.
But I kinda gave my position away as to what made my day in terms of new functionality – yes that pic does show me bowing down in homage to Version Control. In front of 11000 people. Hey I’m not embarrassed, it took all of my self-control to prevent myself from storming the stage and giving the guy a hug.
Thought #4 – “Isn’t technology great”
My conference experience was massively enhanced by a couple of tech items.
Firstly the hugely useful Tableau Conference app. I love the way the organisers monitor the number of favourites a session gets in order to determine of the room allocation is suitable for thee demand.
Secondly, WhatsApp. Despite having a crappy name, this app was great for keeping in touch with colleagues and friends. My pals at The Information Lab are always super-concerned with the social aspect of events and set up a WhatsApp group to allow us to sync. Before we knew it there were 50 members and it became the prime method of determining what bar everyone was in or what session people were at. Great stuff.
Thought #5 – “Las Vegas – oh dear me”
I’ve been to Las Vegas once before. Just for a couple of days passing through. I recall not being too impressed back then, and this visit just confirmed my earlier thoughts. While I’m undoubtedly amazed at the imagination and brilliance of the designers that constructed some of the buildings, I’m still left with a feeling of disgust and depression at the underlying tone of seediness and corruption. It offends pretty much everything that I stand for.
I hope some of you managed to take a virtual shower by getting out to the Grand Canyon or surrounding areas like Bryce Canyon which are stunning. That’s Las Vegas for me. You can keep your Casinos.
Thought #6 – “Why can’t we just have one big global time zone?”
Jet lag sucks. I propose we have one mega time zone (GMT of course) and stick to that. The rest of the world would have to work in perpetual darkness but you’d soon get used to it. Change your goddam date format while you’re at it.
Thought #7 – “That’s the best session I’ve ever seen at a Tableau Conference”
I hope some of you went to the talk by Jeffrey Shaffer & Andy Kriebel entitled “Dear Data Two“. Read the abstract if you want to know what it was about but suffice to say I found this talk incredibly engaging. It covered a huge variety of data viz examples, all done with fun and humour. It was also technical enough as the vizzes were also constructed in Tableau. I loved it. Original, brilliant and emotional at times, this was everything a TC session should be. And told by two natural presenters on stage.
Thought #8 – “Nice one @cheeky_chappie”
I tend to hang around a lot with Paul Chapman. No I don’t know why either, but it happens. And it was great to see him absolutely smash it with his presentation “A Single Shade of Orange“. He’s a #futurezenmaster for sure.
He has been ably coached by an expert road crew (myself & Tom Barber) so we take some (most) of the credit for his success.
Thought #9 – “I wish I was on that stage”
I’ve spoken at the last 3 Tableau Conferences (2 in London & also Seattle). My application was rejected this year to rightly give someone else a chance. That’s cool.
But I was super-jealous of those that did get the opportunity. Speaking at a Tableau event isn’t like other events (of which I do a few). At TC you’re presenting in front of friends, and people that share your mission. They want you to do well. No-one is watching you and judging, or hoping you don’t do well. They all want to learn from you and want you to rock.
It’s a mega buzz to be up on stage and I’d recommend anyone to do it, even if you feel you’re not a natural presenter.
Thought #10 – “This whole thing isn’t the norm”
Code. That’s all Tableau is. Computer code. So why has it changed my entire working life in less than 3 years? I think I know the answer. You see in order to achieve this perfect storm an organization needs to nail each of the 3 pillars
- Application – the tool has to rock. It needs to be easy to use and needs to be able to make your job easier, not harder.
- Company – The company needs to be solid. Progressive, innovative and approachable
- Community – You need a great set of users, with a true sense of collaboration and friendship.
In my career I’ve seen many tools, companies and communities. Most organisations nail 1 out of the 3, occasionally you’ll get a really good one that hits 2/3 – but in 15 years of IT, Tableau is the only one I’ve seen that nails each of these pillars and then some.
It sounds almost cheesy to say it but this isn’t the norm. If you’re a 20-something graduate in your first job using Tableau and you think that all tools and organisations are like this then you’d better wake right up now. This is NOT the normal experience. I’m just grateful I found it at all, mid-way through my career. If you’re lucky enough to have discovered Tableau in your youth then WELL DONE! Enjoy it! You’ve hit the jackpot!
So those are my thoughts on another stellar event. See you in Texas everyone!