New integration lets you query Tableau data in Slack by typing a question

As Tableau looks for ways to make data more accessible to a greater number of people across an organization, it will be announcing later today at the #Data21 customer conference the ability to query your data inside Slack by asking questions using natural language. The announcement builds on previous integrations with Slack.

Francois Ajenstat, chief product officer, speaking at a press event on Monday ahead of the conference, said that the new integration is about bringing the full power of Tableau data into Slack where people can collaborate on it in various ways. That means you can get an alert when data you care about changes, but you can also interact with it right in Slack without having to switch applications.

“Slack also becomes the place to be able to ask questions of data so users can find all of their content right here in one interface. They [don’t] have to leave Slack. They can search the entire Tableau repository — all the dashboards, all the data sources are available right there,” he said.

The key, though, is being able to query that data. “And if I find what I want, I can just jump in and start [typing] questions. So in this case, we’re using Ask Data, which is Tableau’s natural language query interface to ask questions using natural language, which is really easy and accessible to everyone,” he said.

In fact, this capability builds on some functionality the company announced earlier this summer, including Ask Data and Explain Data, says Hyoun Park, CEO and chief analyst at Amalgam Insights. He believes that these capabilities, especially the query feature, could open up data analysis to a group of people who weren’t capable of interacting deeply with data in the past.

“There have been other integrations between Slack and other analytic solutions that use natural language, such as ThoughtSpot. However, the ability to quickly bring Slack and Tableau together and gain access to a breadth of analysis tools via natural language makes this one of the biggest announcements ever to open up analytic access for millions of users who would otherwise lack the data skills to dig deeply into Tableau analytic outputs,” Park told me.

He says that by taking this approach Tableau is not just making this kind of data more widely available, it essentially is making Slack the user interface for the core Tableau product. He points out that it also builds on Einstein Discovery for Tableau, which enables Tableau to take advantage of Salesforce’s AI engine.

The company says this Einstein capability “provides predictions in the flow of work. Business people can run AI predictions on their most important business data to get intelligent predictions that identify leading causes and produce actionable recommendations on next steps.”

Salesforce bought Tableau in 2019 for $15.7 billion. It acquired Slack at the end of last year for more than $27 billion. It’s no wonder, after spending that kind of money, the company wants to find ways to make its expensive purchases work well together, and these announcements are part of making Slack the interface to various pieces across the entire Salesforce platform.

Salesforce announced its first Slack integrations with the Salesforce family of products in August, and Slack announced additional integrations in September.