At Tableau Conference 2018, Tableau gave us a sneak peek of the features to come in their Tableau 2019.1 release. On February 13, 2019, Tableau announced the general availability of 2019.1, bringing the highly anticipated feature Ask Data to users. Ask Data leverages the power of natural language processing (NLP) to enable people to ask questions about their data in plain language and instantly get a visualization response directly in Tableau. All you have to do is select a data source and type in a question.

ask data
NLP and other forms of natural language (NLU, NLQ, and NLG) are quickly becoming a staple “must have” in business intelligence platform interfaces. Before we dive into how Wordsmith fits into Tableau’s new natural language capability, it’s important to clearly outline the difference between NLP and NLG. While both are branches of artificial intelligence, they’re essentially the inverse of one another. Natural language processing helps computers understand and interpret human language and turn it into valuable data. Natural language generation (NLG) is the software process of transforming structured data into clear, human-sounding narratives.

In the same way Tableau was the first to introduce the drag-and-drop functionality within analytics, Ask Data is their next phase in the evolution of self-service analytics. Ask Data is an excellent step forward for Tableau to ensure they’re supporting all their end users, regardless of their level of data expertise or skill set. It’s Tableau’s move to simplify queries and make the formation of data visualization more natural. There’s no need to understand the structure of your data, you can get answers to the pertinent questions you have faster with rich data visualizations. Anyone is able to engage with data and produce insights through visualization without having to do any setup or programming.

How Does Wordsmith Align With Ask Data?

Wordsmith, our leading self-service platform driving NLG for business intelligence and analytics, is a seamless complement to Tableau’s Ask Data, completing the last mile in analytics and data insight by delivering written insights in the easiest way to understand through clear, natural language. Wordsmith’s NLG takes the visualization created by your query in Ask Data and provides written descriptive, diagnostic, prescriptive and predictive analytics side-by-side with those visualizations.

Wordsmith Extension
The analytics community talks a lot about the democratization of data and the need to increase data literacy across organizations. This message has only been strengthened with the emergence of citizen data scientists. The democratization of data is dependent on tools and features within business intelligence platforms that make data discovery, communication and understanding simple and natural in order for these sophisticated software tools to be used outside of the scope of highly trained engineers. The most natural form of communication is language through either voice or story. With the powerful pairing of Ask Data and Wordsmith, you get to use thought, conversational writing, and narrative for both discovering data and getting insights. The work is done for you, all you have to do is ask and read.

Wordsmith for Tableau generates written analytics using NLG directly inside your Tableau dashboard, side-by-side with data visualizations. The real-time narratives update based on the visualization output created from your query with Ask Data. Together, Wordsmith and Ask Data essentially enables you to have a conversation with your data. Put in the data you want to see, have a data story generated for you, query further and repeat. Because Ask Data’s innovative technology cuts through ambiguous language and uses Tableau’s analytical capabilities, users can ask questions that could be interpreted in multiple ways and Ask Data will combine knowledge about the data source with past user activity to present a number of valid options you may be looking for, with the ability to refine results if needed.

An increasing amount of people are coming into contact with data daily, whether it’s because their job function is changing or because their company is becoming more data-driven. There is a multitude of reasons why, but the fact of the matter is that it’s happening. With our advanced technology, we respond to the need by empowering these users with the right insights they need to make better, data-driven decisions.

From beginning to end, NLP and NLG empower anyone in any role, department, or skillset to become a data expert within Tableau.

Is your organization ready to have an interactive conversation with your data? To get started, request a demo.