Tableau and Looker, Just the Beginning

Posted by Grant Wernick on June 13, 2019

With these two monster acquisitions, Tableau for $15.7B by Salesforce and Looker for $2.6B by Google, a lot of people this past week have been asking me my thoughts on the impact this will have on the field of data analytics. They also wonder whether it is an overall good thing for the industry, and specifically, for my company.

First, It is a good thing for all. Second, we need to recognize that we are still in the early stages of the potential for this industry. And thirdly, getting truly meaningful insights from data that non-technical people can use is much harder than it looks.

It’s wonderful to see data analytics companies being valued so highly. It shows that there is a real market to shape the future through data-driven decisions. These acquisitions inform customers, investors, and the general public of the value that analytics companies can bring to business. And yet, data only spells out so much of the story. Humans still need to be an important part of analyzing data, extracting information, and then applying creativity to develop insights.

We are in the early days. Few organizations, outside of the most technical, are really making data actionable. Everyone is talking about it, data scientists are in high demand, and most companies are at least actively attempting to get data in one place. But few are really doing much with it yet or even know what to do with it outside of select pockets within their organization. There is so much opportunity to make data more accessible and to help people understand all that they can accomplish. It’s about being able to fully utilize the data they have, realize the value of data they didn’t know they had, and enable them to do more in significantly less time. These are exciting times, and we are just getting started.

Everyone is increasingly becoming an IT company and will inevitably move to the cloud. The need and desire to extract meaning from it is only going to grow, hence why two of the biggest companies on the planet acquired two companies pushing the envelope on what’s possible. Companies that give access to data to the right people and can help them transform that data into insights will have an even bigger opportunity.

It’s one thing to create pretty dashboards. It’s a whole other ballgame to wrangle one’s data to actually make sense of it. It’s a lot harder than it looks. And today, even these two extremely valuable companies have major challenges around getting data into shape to create the visualizations that make them look so sexy. It requires specialists who are extremely technical to craft time-consuming data collectors, pipelines extractors, and dashboards to deliver even the most basic insights. And often much of the data wrangling burden is on the customers of these companies, specifically the data scientists trying to use their products. So it may look like magic and these companies are no doubt highly valued, but there is a lot of heavy lifting to get anything valuable out of them. This creates a lot of opportunity for founders and investors in this space, as companies emerge to continue shaping the future of data analytics.

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