The Tableau Conference was quite the experience. In this blog, I will be covering my personal experiences. These experiences do not necessarily reflect Tableau, Salesforce, or my employer’s opinion.
I knew #Data23 would be different. Last year was my 1st Tableau Conference. I had responsibilities as a Visionary and Ambassador. Still, I was not a speaker and did not come off the "Golden Hoodie" moment at Dreamforce (which shockingly came a few months later). This year, I had a lot on my plate (as many others had). In addition, the conference size doubled compared to last year — more people from other countries, continents, and non-English 1st languages would be there. As an activist for inclusivity and diversity, I did all I could to make those feel welcome. Here are my five takeaways from the Tableau Conference 2023.
Takeaway 1 | Connect with people outside of your core friend networks
One of the biggest takeaways that helped me experience an even better #Data23 was meeting and spending time with those outside the USA or in your core friend groups, many of whom spent their hard-earned money flying across the world. Seeing the Conference and the community from their POV was incredible. Please consider for #Data24 how fun it would be to see the Conference and experience it the 1st time again (through another's eyes). Besides that, the friendships and bonds you make will persist far beyond the Conference. I know from my experience how difficult it is to take a tippy toe outside your comfort zone (it took me nearly 45 years to do so), but imagine how difficult it would be for those that went far and wide with English being a secondary language. Besides that, almost everyone you meet at the conference is your new best friend or tied for your best friend. The connections here are 100% real.
Takeaway 2 | Sign Up to Speak and Say "Yes" to Opportunities
Honestly, going into the Conference, I felt stretched thin. I had several commitments and was afraid I could not enjoy the Conference as much. However, those commitments are a fantastic way to make an impact and help share knowledge. My 1st significant commitment was a network broadcast titled "Career, Connection, Community" (free on Saleforce+). It was a panel with Prasann Prem (LinkedIn), Priya Padham (LinkedIn), and K T (Twitter) and moderated by Tableau's VP of Community, Larissa Amoroso. Besides realizing now I should have taken my blazer to the tailors and unbuttoned it, the experience was a blast + K T made a huge DATA Saber announcement — so you will want to check that out!
The next major and most important commitment to me was "Battle of the CoE: Tableau Server vs. Tableau Cloud" with Annabelle Rincon (Twitter). Annabelle and I have discussed that since our conversation at last year's Conference. We wanted to inject something other than Tableau Desktop or community-focused because community speakers cover those items extensively. We were legitimately ill before the session — I lost my voice that morning, and Annabelle was dealing with a severe headache. We both focused on getting 'good' enough for the session and were happy with the result of our collaboration.
Note: the title of the session was a bit misleading as we focused our attention primarily on Center of Enablement (CoE) tips and tricks with a little bit of a "battle" between Tableau Cloud and Server as Annabelle runs a Tableau Server CoE and I am the technical lead of a Cloud CoE.
All significant (public) commitments were fantastic, and so happy I saw them through.
Takeaway 3 | We are SO ready to move the Conference outside of Vegas
Vegas hosted both Tableau Conferences I attended. Unfortunately, besides the extensive walking, the lingering scents of casino smoke, arid air, and the general kitschiness of the scene get tiring quickly. In some ways, it is excellent because it has almost everything (and much of it), but it feels a bit off as a backdrop for our Conference. It also is a bit less accessible to those who have mobility concerns. Nevertheless, the excitement for switching the venue from Vegas to San Diego for next year's Conference was universally lauded.
Takeaway 4 | The Tableau as a tool experience is shifting to the Cloud and AI
I was concerned Tableau was slowly becoming a legacy BI tool that integrates Salesforce-purchased products. Over the past few years, fewer analysis/developer-focused updates saw it onto releases, and innovation only came with integrations. Nothing felt new or groundbreaking. This keynote hit the right tone with me, and this is something I shared immediately afterward on LinkedIn. In short, I was excited about the enhanced direction of the tool as it aligns with my vision of what it could be.
Takeaway 5 | You are tired of the Conference but long for those connections you made and reinforced as soon as you taxi away from the hotel
When you leave the hotel, wait for the airplane, and connect with those online when leaving the Conference — you think of the additional time you wish you had with your new and old friends and missed connections. So do yourself a massive favor and use this as an opportunity to keep those conversations alive.
Bonus Takeaway | The Tableau Teams are so incredible
You can walk right up and have conversations with Francois Ajenstat, Pedro Arellano, Larissa Amoroso, and Ryan Aytay (when they are not engaged, please) or see the passion and excitement of the community team. They feed off your positive energy as they have worked tirelessly to prepare for this conference. I am always amazed by the team’s dedication, positivity, and energy they possess.
Here is a quickly generated iMovie of 75 pics from the Blurry Selfie King (per Andy Kriebel, which is very accurate) taken during the conference. I took many more pics but did not want to make it even longer.