The channel must remain focused to capitalise on BI opportunity: Tableau

Gaining a market advantage would be an uphill struggle without specialised partners

The amount of data being generated each year continues to rise, while organisations such as Tableau see the opportunity to make sense of this data enabling business leaders to make more informed decisions.

However, without a broad network of competent and specialised partners embedded locally throughout the regions they serve, gaining a market advantage in this highly competitive field of data analytics / business intelligence (BI), would be an uphill struggle.

“Large markets such as Japan, Australia, Singapore, as well as some big cities in China and India, continue to represent huge opportunities for us,”  said Ajay Advani, vice president for Asia Pacific partners at Tableau Software. “We have a presence in these areas either directly or through our partner network.

“The aim here is to attract new logos, sell more to our existing customers and grow deal sizes,” added Advani. “At the same time, smaller markets present huge opportunities”

Advani admits that in some of these smaller markets, the vendor needs to work on growing its presence through expanding its partner network locally.

“Underlying all these efforts is the need to ensure that customers see success and love working with Tableau,” he said. “Keeping the customer at the centre of what we do is the only way we can achieve our goals.”

More recently, the firm added a natural language capability to its product offerings, increasing its competitive advantage, enabling customers to gain insight from data through speech.

“The end result of working with modern business intelligence tools looks similar, that is, a visualisation of a result,” said Advani. “However, with Tableau, the journey of getting to insights is unique.

“Our capability to bring a user through step by step in their data journey, coupled with ease of use, is our strength,” added Advani. “This unique approach has resulted in one of our most precious assets, a loyal and fanatical user base.”

Partner network

Advani believes that for APAC partners to find success in the field of business intelligence they need to remain focused on their mission and resist the temptation to work with new “shiny” objects.

“Do whatever you do par excellence,” said Advani. “Collaborate with other specialists to provide customers with the best solutions to their challenges. Do not try to single-handedly try to be everything to everyone.”

However, as Advani highlighted, simply making and selling great technology is no longer enough. “Enablement is imperative. Help partners become even better at what they do.

“Help them to stay across the trends, the changes in technology and adapt to customers evolving business needs,” added Advani. “In short, vendors must help technology providers help their customers become more successful.”

The vendor plans on increasing regional sales through collaborating with existing partners to increase not just their sales but their technical investments as well. Plans are also afoot to recruit new regional partners. 

“The objective is to have enough sales, pre-sales and services people out there selling Tableau so that we can address the massive opportunity in front of us,” said Advani.

“We are also working on improving our partner sales forces’ capabilities. In order to help customers, we must enable our partners so that they are able to serve customers at a level of excellence.”

To better engage partners, the vendor has also put in place a more structured program focused on "listening to partners’ feedback".

Other than building out the firm’s partner network, Tableau has a number of key priorities throughout the year around expansion, evangelisation and product investments.

“Firstly, we are committed to scaling our business,” said Advani. “We want to promote greater reach and coverage to ensure that we are best able to serve our growing customer base.

“Helping customers become data-driven enterprises is another focus. In most companies today, only some people work with data.”

The vendor said it is also expanding its offerings and improving its existing products, promising new features and functions throughout the year.

Furthermore, Tableau has increased the size of its partner team by 50 per cent, hiring additional partner managers and sales consultants to work with partners and other people to work in partner operations according to the firm’s President and CEO, Adam Selipsky.

“In addition, we have created new support tier levels, Extended and Premium, that make technical account managers available to customers 24 hours a day,” said Advani.

The vendor has also expanded its certification and training programs to increase the number of skilled partner employees. “We are focused on delivering customer success and enabling partners to innovate on Tableau’s platform to help optimise deployments,” added Advani.

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Data journey

The accuracy of the data received is paramount, and the data needs to be actionable as a wrong business decision can be extremely costly to an organisation.

“Every step of the data journey presents a challenge for organisations,” said Advani. “This can come in the form of governing, managing, storing, accessing and analysing data for actionable insights.”

“If organisations make a wrong step in any of the process, they may face severe penalties and economic losses,” added Advani.

Advani believes that as the market matures more customers will move from traditional business intelligence to modern business intelligence.

“In the past, a request for a dashboard or analysis was submitted to the IT or business intelligence department,” said Advani. “Often IT and business intelligence departments were overwhelmed due to the sheer volume of data coming in, combined with the increasing demands of the business.”

However, to deal with this challenge, businesses are now introducing self-service analytics platforms which are meant to empower every user to interact with the data to derive what they need to make decisions.

“With the right data available, the right tools and the right culture, people will finally be able to use data to its full potential thereby greatly increasing the competitive edge of their companies,” said Advani.

Furthermore, as datasets grow faster and larger, more organisations are looking to empower all workers - not just the technical specialists - with data skills. One example is GoJek, which has a data-first mindset. 

“Like many companies, GoJek faced the challenge of having its data residing in many sources and forms – from Go-Ride to e-payment platform Go-Pay and food delivery service Go-Food.”

“With such disparate data sources, Go-Jek faced difficulties making sense of data,” said Advani. “Go-Jek’s IT team hence turned to Tableau to help it make sense of its data, as it enabled the team to integrate many data sources and build a dashboard from a billion rows of data in just a few clicks - Tableau can now be used to present data at every meeting and discussion.”

Every business sits on mountains of data,” said Advani. “The challenge is to leverage and learn from that data to arrive at strategic insights which drive the best and most informed decisions that in turn help a business to reach its strategic goals.”

Market

According to Advani, an ever-increasing number of businesses are turning to self-service analytics. “This is because the traditional analytics method, where departments ask the IT or data scientists for data insights, often takes too long and can result in people working with outdated data.”

“Instead, businesses are moving towards modern, easy to use visual analytics platforms which allow people across different departments, at all levels, to perform analytics themselves,” he added.

As a result, said Advani, the firm introduced tailored subscription offerings in 2018 – Tableau Creator, for heavy users like analysts; Explorer, for users that want to explore governed data in a self-serviced way and Viewer, for users who only need to access analytics dashboards.

“This allows our customers to strike the appropriate analytics mix to meet their specific needs,” said Advani.

Many businesses are also looking at the advantages of migrating data to the cloud due to its added flexibility and scalability.

"Lastly, developments in technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are shaping our business,” said Advani. “We see a lot of potential for these technologies to further democratise data.”

“Like in any business relationship, vendors and partners may not always see eye to eye,” added Advani. “However, if each party trusts that the other is acting in good faith, it helps to drive mutual success even if there are differences in points of view.”

The other area is profitability, where, according to Advani, vendors must be conscious that every action will impact how much money partners make.

“We must do everything possible to ensure that both the vendor and partner are in the black,” added Advani. “Only then can we develop a long-term, mutually successful relationship.”