If you’re like me, you had a “What in the world!?” moment when Salesforce announced the renaming of Einstein Analytics as TableauCRM. Whoa!

As if people weren’t confused enough already, we’ve gone from Wave, to Einstein Analytics, and now to TableauCRM. And just how many analytics tools does Salesforce now own? I mean, there is,

  1. Salesforce reports and dashboards
  2. Einstein Analytics
  3. Tableau
  4. Datorama
  5. Pardot analytics
  6. Marketing analytics

How does a data analyst or systems manager, never mind the typical business user, make sense of all this?

Let me see if I can help.

A brief background

Consider the original announcement that kicked off this amazing analytics journey in October of 2014:

Salesforce launches Wave analytics cloud, boosts enterprise reach

Salesforce on Tuesday will launch Wave, its analytics cloud, in a move that broadens its platform for other business use cases and applications designed to make data fun and intuitive for the masses.
Wave, the Salesforce Analytics Cloud, is aimed at the broader subset of business users beyond sales and marketing professionals. Salesforce’s analytics efforts are designed to be mobile first with the ability to pluck data from any source.
The rollout will be outlined out at Dreamforce 2014 by CEO Marc Benioff on Tuesday.

What does that journey look like? Well, it began in 2013 with the acquisition of EdgeSpring, an analytics startup, and it went from there.

Where does Tableau fit into this picture?

For those of us in the BI and Analytics space, Year 2019 will be known as the year of Mergers and Acquisitions; so much so that five of them took place within the space of 10 weeks with Salesforce creating waves (pun intended) with its $15.7 billion acquisition of Tableau.

Most of this made sense as companies that existed in the millennium decade and early 2010’s have strategically placed them to address the future consisting of Analytics/Visualization, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Machine Learning.

Out of all, Salesforce’s Tableau acquisition creates the biggest impact and augurs well for the industry.

  1. The Tableau platform offers expansive data exploration and visualization with broad connectivity to data anywhere, and a breadth of deployment and integration capabilities. At the heart of Tableau is a proprietary technology known as VizQL, which translates user actions into interactive visualizations, allowing you to explore your data, easily pivot your analysis, and answer that next question. The platform helps ensure that people have ready access to data anywhere, and that anyone can get insights from their data, regardless of their skill level.
  2. Einstein Analytics was built into Salesforce with deep, native integration across the Salesforce platform. Optimized for consumption within Salesforce CRM applications, Einstein Analytics allows you to combine internal data and external data and provides users with a more intelligent experience. This offers Salesforce users insights when they need them, all within the trusted Salesforce domain. Einstein Analytics also offers enterprise AI/machine learning capabilities, enabling companies to build amazing predictive models that help their business users go from insight to action, right within their CRM workflow.

“As we innovate and expand our collective capabilities going forward, we will continue to retain and build upon the current functionality of both Tableau and Einstein Analytics. We can’t wait to see what amazing impact our incredible community will drive with these new solutions.”
Mark Nelson, EVP, Product Development, Tableau Software

What has changed?

The name.

A quick comparison

  1. Salesforce reports and dashboards
    1. Salesforce reports and dashboards are always relevant and useful, and they are your “go to” option for a quick win based upon real-time data. 
    2. “Use operational reporting for generating lists of data, preferably data or questions that don’t change too often. Dashboards are based on your reports and show a snapshot of data at the runtime. Everybody has access to reports and it’s easy to export your reports.” Rikke Hovgaard
  2. Einstein Analytics / Tableau CRM
    1. Most of your users are already in Salesforce.
    2. You want to quickly embed analytics and action analytics in Salesforce.
    3. You’re looking for easily embedded AI, supervised machine learning (Einstein Discovery).
    4. Other use cases of contextual, embedded artificial intelligence.
    5. You want a tight, native two-way integration with Salesforce that allows.embedded dashboards, single and bulk actions in Salesforce, etc. 
  3. Tableau:
    1. Your insights are going to be widely shared among Salesforce and non-Salesforce users, or if you aren’t using Salesforce.
    2. You want the option of on-prem architecture.
    3. You require remote, federated queries (a federated query allows you to incorporate live data as part of your business intelligence and reporting applications).
    4. You need more flexibility around how the BI platform fits in with the business technology stack.
    5. You want to pay less for people who only view or explore your insights, and you want clear lines of demarcation between builders and viewers.
  4. Both EA and Tableau:
    1. Many system landscapes are a fit for both platforms.
    2. Both platforms now provide a level of integration with Salesforce.
    3. Tableau will soon include embedded intelligent predictions from Einstein.

what do you use where?

Ask yourself:

  1. Who is going to use the business insights?
  2. Where are they going to view and action the insights?
  3. How will they share those insights with others?
  4. How much of the data for the dashboards is stored in Salesforce?
  5. Where is the external data stored? 
  6. How will external data be connected to the BI tool? 
  7. What in-house resources will work on the analytics? What BI / data skills do they have? 
  8. What platforms are users accustomed to using? 
  9. How many of the data consumers are Salesforce CRM users?
  10. What BI platform license structure suits the business best?

Broadly speaking, if most of your users are already in Salesforce, then Einstein Analytics is most likely your platform of choice. If you want to quickly embed analytics and action analytics in Salesforce, ditto. If your insights are going to be widely shared among Salesforce and non-Salesforce users, or if you aren’t using Salesforce, then go with Tableau.

It is important to remember that, at the end of the day, it isn’t about the technology – it is about a business result. You must be able to go from data to insight to action, and the limiting factors in this process are much broader than simply technology.

This article has some more detailed advice.

If you have a question about a specific use case, feel free to reach out to me here:


What does the future hold?

  1. What is the vision?
    1. Connect to any data
    2. Powerful analytics for everyone:
    3. Insights for anyone, anywhere
  2. Tableau continues to be further integrated with Salesforce and Einstein. E.g.:
    1. Making it easier to embed Tableau dashboards in Salesforce. 
    2. Einstein Discovery intelligent insights in Tableau dashboards. A new dashboard extension will arm Tableau dashboards with predictions, explanations, and suggestions to improve predicted outcomes from Einstein Discovery—right within Tableau visualisations.
    3. Tableau is also integrating Einstein Discovery into Tableau’s calculation engine. Using the prediction capability is as simple as creating a calculated field with the new Einstein Discovery connection type.
    4. Bulk scoring and predictive insights in Prep Builder: Tableau Prep Builder has brought data prep to even more people by making data prep easy and visual.
  3. Salesforce continues to invest heavily in the development of Einstein Analytics and Discovery. E.g.:
    1. Data prep 2.0 – a visual, low-code data extraction, aggregation and transformation (ETL) tool is being introduced.
    2. No-code or low-code dashboard development. 
    3. More industry analytics templates.
    4. Einstein Discovery story templates.
    5. Improved performance.
    6. Increased data limits. 
  4. The next step includes data access capabilities that make it easier to access data managed in Tableau or in Salesforce, from within either application:
    1. Tableau querying Einstein Analytics data sets: Tableau will be able to query data stored in Einstein Analytics, opening up deep exploration capabilities of Tableau queries for CRM data. This combines the scale, performance, and security of the Einstein Analytics data sets with the industry-leading data exploration experience within Tableau.
    2. Einstein Analytics writing to Tableau: Einstein Analytics will be able to write data to Tableau, creating extracts in Tableau containing Salesforce data.
    3. Tableau Prep writing to Einstein Analytics: Tableau Prep will be able to write to both Tableau and Einstein Analytics, so you can use the right platform for your needs.
  5. After AI and data interoperability, the next focus area will be to unify the content authoring experience. This will enable people using Tableau or Einstein Analytics to create analytics content only once, that can then be consumed anywhere.

What about the long term? Will Salesforce eventually merge the two products into one? Only time will tell. However, my opinion is that both products will be around as separate platforms for a good while to come – ongoing investment in both by Salesforce is clear evidence of that.