Diary of a Tableau Conference Newbie - Part 1
On Sunday 6th November, my colleagues and I flew out to Austin, TX, for the 9th annual Tableau Conference 2016. 'TC16' is a huge event held in a different city in the US each year, with around 13,000 people attending and 500+ sessions across the five-day data extravaganza.
As a Tableau partner, this event provides us with a great opportunity to engage with Tableau staff, customers and technology partners. Our main objective here is to keep abreast with the latest product development while topping up our knowledge of Tableau functionalities and features.
On Monday morning, we tackled the 30-second walk from our Airbnb to the main conference center, to register and get our passes. My colleagues were handed green stickers stating 'My 4th Tableau Conference', which they exhibited proudly on their passes, while I sheepishly accepted a baby blue 'This is my 1st Tableau Conference' one. I briefly considered sticking it behind my pass, out of sight (out of mind). But, after a quick scan, I realised that the majority of others around us were newbies too. It turns out roughly 8,000 attendees are at their first conference – so I wore my sticker with pride.
Weeks before the conference, we had scanned the line-up of talks, and each of us planned a personal schedule, sometimes having to choose only one out of 10 or 12 interesting talks that were going to be held at the same time. Nobody said it would be straightforward, but that's just unfair... I chose my sessions based on the following objectives: to brush up on Tableau's lesser used features, to improve my dashboarding and visualisation skills and to learn how I can deliver additional value to my current clients using Tableau.
With this in mind, I booked sessions with names such as 'Forecasting in Tableau', 'Tableausaurus Regex Unleashed', 'Visualizing Survey Data 2.0' and 'Hot. Dirty. Sets.'. These talks, amongst others, stood out to me as they covered functionalities that I wanted to learn more about (forecasting/sets) or would help refine and formalise analysis that I am doing for our clients (visualising survey data). Watch this space for future blogs on what I learn at these sessions!
Interspersed into our personal schedule are a series of keynote and talks aimed at the whole conference with a slicker, more strategic tone. On Tuesday morning, Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky opened with his 'Tableau Vision', packaged up nicely with the tag line "Helping you see and understand data". See Tim Archer's blog "Making Data Great Again" for more details on this. As expected, the highlight for me will be the conference closing keynote from Bill Nye, "The Science Guy", where I expect to finally hit 'full geek' capacity.
Other highlights include the 'Hands on Jedi Showdown' on Wednesday where I'll go up against other Tableau users in a live visualisation and analysis competition. Additionally, Wednesday evening sees us attending the 'Data Night Out', a big party held every year with drinks served at places like 'Bar Chart'. I'm going to enjoy this!