Tableau Software has announced the release of a new natural language processing-powered feature called Ask Data. The capability allows users to ask data questions in plain language and get a visual response inside the Tableau platform. The technology is patent pending and enables non-technical users to produce analytical insights without having to do any manual setup or programming. Ask Data is included in the company’s newest product release, Tableau 2019.1.
With Ask Data, Tableau users are returned a data visualization that they can explore, refine the question to, and drill into for further detail. The technology uses a series of algorithms that are driven by an understanding of the person’s intent and not keywords, which helps the software return more relevant answers. Ask Data is fully integrated into the Tableau platform, and is part of Tableau Server and Tableau Online. It works with the solution’s full range of supported data sources without having to move data or train the algorithm.
Ask Data combines statistical knowledge about a data source with contextual knowledge about real-world concepts. Its parser automatically cuts through ambiguous language, meaning that if a question could be interpreted in multiple ways, the feature will combine knowledge about the data source with past user activity and present a number of valid options to choose from. It also integrates with Tableau Server’s existing security and governance capabilities.
In tandem with the Ask Data release, Tableau also announced the availability of its new Prep Conductor, a tool that enables the scheduling and management of self-service data preparation. Tableau Prep Conductor is part of a new subscription service called the Tableau Data Management Add-On. Tableau also plans to add data cataloging functionality to this feature-set later in the year.
In a statement to Solutions Review, the company’s Product Manager Andrew Vigneault said of the news: “The natural language processing (NLP) capability of Ask Data offers a huge step forward by enabling people to be able to ask questions of their data in the same way they ask questions in everyday life. Ask Data makes it easier than ever for anyone to uncover insights from their data without deeply understanding the complexity of the underlying data. And Ask Data uniquely offers a conversational approach and highly relevant results that will help people get the answers they are looking for faster.”
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