Tableau Software 2021 Review


Tableau Software
Seattle, WA

Deployment Model:
Free Trial:

Cloud, On-Premise

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Tableau At A Glance

Good: Robust drill-down and visualization tools make data approachable for all types of users.

Bad: Customers have mentioned a steep learning curve for executives and the system tends to be slow at times when dealing with large datasets.

Bottom Line: Tableau offers intuitive business intelligence tools to enhance data discovery and understanding.

Product Overview

Everything Tableau does is fueled by one simple mission: Help people see and understand their data.

Tableau provides all types of users with intuitive business intelligence (BI) tools to enhance data discovery and understanding. With simple drag-and-drop features, a user is able to easily access and analyze key data, create innovative reports and visualizations, and share critical insights across the company.

Tableau has three main products for robust data discovery:

  1. Desktop – Desktop is used to connect and analyze disparate data, and create highly innovative reports in just a few clicks.
  2. Server – Server allows users to securely collaborate and share critical insights and information through comprehensive dashboards created in Tableau Desktop or directly in Tableau Server.
  3. Online – Tableau Online is a cloud-hosted version of Tableau Server. It not only saves time and money by skipping hardware setup, Tableau Server also supports mobile access.

In addition to the tools above, Tableau has other products to make your BI efforts simpler:

  • Mobile – Tableau Mobile is a free companion app for Tableau Server or Tableau Online that allows for streamlined access to analytics stored in either solution.
  • Public – Tableau Public is a completely free version of Tableau Desktop and Tableau Online for data intended to be shared publicly.

In addition to the product above, the Tableau Prep allows users to combine, clean and prepare their data more efficiently. Tableau Prep includes a drag-and-drop interface for complex tasks, such as joining and pivoting. Users can edit values or re-order steps, and see immediate results. Tableau Prep uses smart algorithms to combine repetitive tasks, such as common misspelling of names, into a one-click operation.


Tableau offers robust visual analytics and data drilling tools across all of its products. We’ve listed the main features that make this possible:

Numerous data connections – Tableau can connect to hundreds of data sources, both live and in-memory, without any programming. Notable connectors include: Redshift, Cloudera Hadoop, SQL Server, Salesforce, Google Analytics & Google Sheets, MongoDB, PDF files, spatial files, Dropbox, Amazon Athena and more.

Live and in-memory data – Easily switch between extracted data and live connections, set up automatic extract refreshes and be notified when a data connection fails – all through the Tableau platform.

Secure collaboration – Use Tableau Server and Tableau Online to securely share and collaborate on key insights.

Mobile optimized designs – Device Designer is a tool that allows users to design, customize and publish dashboards that scale for desktops, phones and tablets.

Embedded dashboards – Embed dashboards into your existing applications, such as Salesforce, SharePoint and Jive, for quick analytics where you need them most.

Drag-and-drop integration – With drag-and-drop abilities, easily integrate data and create visuals to pinpoint patterns with a few clicks.

Unlimited data connectors – Tableau can connect to any data source on-premise or in the cloud.

We also want to note that Tableau introduced three new features in its 2020.2 Release. They are:

Relationships – This feature allows Tableau to automatically create relationships between data tables and run queries only on the data that’s relevant to the user’s analysis. It enables users to analyze data at the right level of detail.

Metrics – The Metrics feature lets users monitor their key performance indicators (KPIs) from their desktop or mobile device. They can access the Metrics from multiple dashboards at once and create a Metric from any visualization in a single click. Users also have access to data in real time as Tableau updates the Metrics in the background.

Set control – With this feature, users can change the members of a set using the drop-down menus. The set control then automatically refreshes the domain so that the data is up-to-date.

Target Market

With over 70,000 customer accounts, Tableau serves a variety of industries, including major corporations and banks, educational institutions and healthcare providers.

Below is a list of some of its major clients:

  • LinkedIn
  • Deloitte
  • Accenture
  • MillerCoors
  • Wells Fargo
  • Unilever
  • Honeywell
  • PepsiCo
  • The Texas Rangers
  • Lufthansa

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Tableau provides a variety of implementation and consulting services. For enterprise-level deployment, there’s a four-step process:

  • Phase 1 – This phase involves IT planning, architecture consulting, pre-install checkup, server installation and verification, and validation of security configuration.
  • Phase 2 – Phase 2 involves working with data and data migration, including data modeling, data mining, data extraction, data sources and business workflow.
  • Phase 3 – In Phase 3, there’s a two-day classroom training covering Tableau Fundamentals, hands-on advanced coaching, and building and formatting visualizations.
  • Phase 4 – This final phase helps companies expand Tableau usage across their business. It includes implementation workshops where topics such as evaluating action plans and defining measurable outcomes are discussed.

Regardless of your company’s size and deployment method, Tableau offers a Quick Start Service for your needs. Examples include:

  • Server Rapid Start – For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), Tableau plans, installs and implements its server in a four-day time frame.
  • Server Kick Start – In two days, Tableau helps companies plan, install and implement out-of-the-box deployments of its server.
  • Desktop Kick Start – In two-hour increments, companies can use Tableau’s phone sessions to help them implement its Desktop version.

Customer Service & Support

Tableau provides four levels of support services to its customers: complimentary, technical support, elite program and OEM program.


Tableau offers a number of free resources to its customers, including access to the Tableau community and Knowledge Base repository, on-demand training, live weekly web training, and on and offline product documentation. Complimentary support is good for non-critical issues like defects with the software, installation, activation and downloading assistance, basic questions about configuration, and access to major and minor releases.

If you’re not sure if your case fits in the Complimentary category, contact the Tableau support team by submitting your case online.

Technical Support

The Technical Support Program is automatically included with a one-year license purchase. It includes all the benefits of the Complimentary level, as well as multiple location support, multi-channel communication and an escalation process for critical issues. An annual renewal is required for ongoing software support and maintenance.

Elite Program

In Tableau’s Elite Account Management Program, your company is assigned a technical account manager to ensure your support cases will be prioritized appropriately. Along with all the benefits of the Technical Support level, you’ll also have 24/7/365 access to Emergency Priority 1 Support.

OEM Program

The OEM Technical Support Program is for customers who have integrated Tableau into their current software suites. In addition to the benefits of Technical Support, you’ll be able to access Emergency Priority 1 Support, 24/7/365. You’ll also be assigned a Partner Support Engineer to help with critical issues related to your integration.

Tableau provides quick links and FAQs on its support page, along with information about consulting services and training.


Rather than offering pricing of each of its available products, Tableau’s subscription pricing strategy focuses on individual users and their data needs. Each subscription includes maintenance, product upgrades, and support in one cost, so there’s no surprise fees.

  • Tableau Creator – Tableau Creator is designed for individual analysts and power users, and costs $70 per user per month (billed annually). It includes access to Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep, as well as one Creator license to either Tableau Server or Tableau Online. Note that the Creator price is the same, regardless if Tableau is deployed in the cloud or on premise.
  • Tableau Explorer – Tableau Explorer is designed for users that want to explore governed self-service analytics, for example, exploring available data to answer their own questions, rather than relying on data from others. It costs $35 per user per month (billed annually) if deployed on-premise, and includes one license to Tableau Server. If deployed in the cloud, this plan costs $42 per user per month (billed annually) and includes one license to Tableau Online.
  • Tableau Viewer – Tableau Viewer is designed for users that just want to access, but not have to create, dashboards and visualizations. When deployed on-premise, it costs $12 per user per month (billed annually) and includes one Viewer license of Tableau Server. When deployed in the cloud, it costs $15 per user per month (billed annually) and include one Viewer license of Tableau Online. Note that Tableau requires a minimum of 100 Viewers for this plan.

There’s also an add-on data management feature to Tableau Server that costs $5.50 per user per month (billed annually). It requires a minimum of 100 users for all Creators, Explorers and Viewers on a Server deployment. Tableau offers an add-on server management feature for $3 per user per month (billed annually). The data management feature is also available to Tableau Online at the same price point ($5.50 per user per month), and Tableau also offers Resource Blocks for running concurrent Prep flows. Each Resource Block costs $250 per month (billed annually).

Finally, Tableau provides an Embedded Analytics platform for companies that don’t want to build analytics within their own programs. Pricing is not publicly available, so you’ll want to contact Tableau directly for a quote.

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Some customers have mentioned that Tableau has a steep learning curve for executives. Others have mentioned that the software can be slow to load, especially when working with large datasets.

If interested in alternatives, we’ve compared Tableau with other top BI solutions, such as IBM Cognos, Power BI and Domo.



Tableau Software focuses on business intelligence and data analytics products that both liberate data and empower people. It was founded in 2003 by Chris Stolte, Pat Hanrahan and Christian Chabot, and it’s headquartered in Seattle. Tableau is consistently ranked as one of the “Leaders” in the business intelligence marketplace by Gartner in its annual Magic Quadrant Survey.

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