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AiThority Interview with Brian Matsubara, RVP of Global Technology Alliances at Tableau


Hi Brian, please tell us about your current role and the team you handle at Tableau. How did you arrive at Tableau?

I have the great privilege of running our Technology Partner team. Our team manages Tableau’s strategic partnerships with the major cloud providers (AWS, Google Cloud, Azure and Alibaba) and with the leading ISVs in the areas of data management and augmented analytics. We help ensure the technical integration between Tableau and our partners’ technologies, along with supporting go-to-market motions to help customers understand how to best see and understand their data. 

I joined Tableau in the Fall of 2018 from Google Cloud where I ran the Technology Alliance Strategic Initiatives and Operations team. Being a resident of Seattle, I have long been a fan of Tableau. I firmly believe the next major transformation in enterprise computing is centered around how people and companies make the best use of their data.

Prior to Google, I spent 7 years at AWS where I founded and built their Technology Partner business. I had the good fortune to work under Adam Selipsky while at AWS prior to him joining Tableau as CEO. The opportunity for me to get into the fast growing data industry and working with Adam again made too much sense.

How much has the global technology alliance ecosystem evolved in the last 2-3 years? What kind of disruptive impact did the pandemic crisis have on your partnership ecosystem?

Over the past 2.5 years, we’ve expanded our technology alliance ecosystem by working more closely with the leading incumbent ISVs in the data market, while expanding our ecosystem with the new and fast-moving start-ups who are pushing the envelope with what is possible with data. We evolved our integration strategy to allow partners to build their own connectors to Tableau and publish them in the Tableau Gallery. We expanded our reach into China with a new partnership with Alibaba Cloud and matured our partnership with AWS to bring Tableau to the Chinese market. 

The COVID-19 pandemic showed the true power of data and demonstrated how an ecosystem of companies can come together to help the world make sense of an unprecedented crisis. Our partners came together to help governments, companies, and individuals track the spread of COVID-19 across the globe. Collectively we helped make the Tableau COVID Data Hub a reality.

Access to trusted data sources is the first step in turning data into information and then information into action. Visualizing the COVID data was instrumental in helping people understand the magnitude of what we were up against. We, as a connected world, are not out of the woods with COVID, but I’m proud of the work our ecosystem has done to help us through it.

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Could you tell us more about the engagement with Agiloft? How would your partnership jointly benefit your customers?

Agiloft and Tableau both strive to provide simplicity in the complex world of enterprise applications and data. At Tableau, we want to democratize the access to data and insights hidden within. Agiloft brings simplicity to Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM). Combined, we help customers easily see how to optimize their contract administration and find ways to improve their systems, processes and operations. 

What is the most contemporary definition of data analytics? How do different businesses leverage Tableau for data analytics and business intelligence?

Data analytics is the process of uncovering trends, patterns, and correlations in raw data to help make data-informed decisions. Tableau helps people see and understand data through our visual analytics platform. There are multiple ways people and organizations use our products. A few examples include:

  • IT — Hardware/software asset inventory, helpdesk call volume/resolution time, resource allocation, security patch compliance 
  • Finance — Budget planning and spend, accounts payable, travel expenses 
  • Marketing — Campaign engagement, web engagement, leads 
  • Human Resources — Turnover rate, open headcount, new hire retention, employee satisfaction 
  • Sales — Sales/quota tracking, pipeline coverage, average deal size, win/loss rate 

Data analytics are also being used to help tackle some of  the world’s most complex problems, including racial equity and societal recovery from COVID-19

Tell us about the role of AI ML and Automation in the data analytics landscape? Which industries are leading in the adoption race? Which ones are lagging?

Tableau democratized analytics and is now democratizing data science with the power of AI.

Through new innovations like Business Science and our Augmented Analytics technology, we’re delivering AI-generated predictions, insights and automated explanations to help more people see and understand data. These developments cover a range of experiences that allow organizations to utilize their data to better understand themselves and their environments. Augmented analytics unlocks a whole new audience for data. Technologies like Natural Language Processing (NLP) and automated statistical modeling are allowing people who might never have thought of themselves as analysts, to ask questions of the information in their organization and monitor the world around them to make faster and better-informed decisions.

With Business Science, we’re allowing people familiar with their business to ask new questions about what might happen in the future using a predictive model building that’s scoped to their domain. Finally, by integrating with top open-source data science tools like R and Python, and partners in the space, we allow organizations to get real value out of the DSML investments by bringing predictions to BI, where the business is already consuming data. Across a wide spectrum of capabilities and use cases, ML technologies in BI are already changing the way organizations think about and use data and are letting people do things at scale that only a few years ago would have been out of reach to most.  

Looking more broadly beyond just AI, we’re seeing a bit of a disconnect around data cultures. An IDC survey recently found that over 80% of CEOS want their organizations to be more data-driven, only 25% are data-leading (defined as “committed to realizing value from data”). 

The services/technology and oil/gas industries are among the top data-leading organizations. Conversely, the government/education and healthcare industries have the biggest room for growth.

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Data management is an organizational task. Tell us more about the kind of discussions you have with your CIO and CISO about managing customer and enterprise data?

Our approach to data management is with both IT and the business in mind. As we see more data, in more places, in a variety of formats, as well as more users needing and expecting access to that data for analysis, we believe there’s value in giving visibility to the metadata being used, no matter what your role. While there are many data management solutions available, they all have specific problems they solve. Tableau is creating a convergence where a user can have a holistic analytical journey from the data pipeline to analysis and decision making. 

For those who already have data management tools, like catalogs and ETL tools, we want to ensure they can integrate seamlessly into Tableau, so they can govern, trust and operationalize their data pipelines, both inside and outside of Tableau.

Internally, our goal is to continually earn our customers’ trust by leveraging industry-standard security solutions and best practices, keeping our customers well informed, and quickly responding to security issues when they arise.

Hear it from the pro: What are your predictions on the role of modern data management teams in developing and delivering a 100% Goal-based Analytics strategy? What advice do you have for your partner community?

Data will continue to play an increasingly bigger role in the success of organizations. The only way to create a true data culture is to empower people with the right technology to better leverage data analytics and make smarter, faster decisions. Currently, most organizations rely solely on IT or data science teams for analytics. We believe that lowering the barrier of entry and democratizing data analytics with tools like AI, ML and NLP, will help make everyone within an organization, regardless of title, capable of utilizing data.

My advice to the partner community is that Tableau welcomes and values anyone who can help customers with implementation and adoption, optimization of investments, and augment and extend our platform.

Any advice (s) to all the young professionals starting in the technology industry:

Where do I begin? I’d say to those early in their careers – increase your appetite for learning. Education doesn’t stop when you finish school. Technological innovation grows exponentially. Every innovation is built on the shoulders of the innovations that came before. As such, the rate of innovation continues to accelerate and this will continue. You need to be intentional about being a student of the industry. Teach yourself. Talk with others. Be curious. I’ve always been drawn to emerging and disruptive technologies. From the early days of Linux and Open Source, to the introduction of virtualizing infrastructure components, to Cloud and now data, I continue to be excited about how what was once the standard now becomes obsolete in a blink of an eye. Staying ahead of the innovation curve is challenging, but incredibly fun and rewarding if you can.

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Thank you, Brian! That was fun and we hope to see you back on soon.

Brian leads the Global Technology Partner business for Tableau Software, the world’s leading analytics platform.  In this role, Brian is responsible for supporting a worldwide ecosystem of cloud, business software, storage, data management and advanced analytics partners with customers who rely on Tableau. 

Prior to joining Tableau, Brian spent a decade building the technology partner organizations for Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud.  At these companies, Brian helped develop the foundational business and partnership models that helped technology companies pivot their business to the cloud.  From 2009 – 2016, Brian founded and ran the AWS Global Technology Partner organization.  From 2016 – 2018, Brian joined Google Cloud to run their Strategic Initiatives & Operations team focused on designing, launching and running innovative programs focused on helping the Google Cloud partner ecosystem thrive and customers succeed.    

Before his days in the cloud, Brian worked for a number of innovative technology companies where he helped push the boundaries of software development, licensing and sales strategy. His previous companies include rPath, Inc., Microsoft, Red Hat and Visio Corporation.  

Brian is based in Seattle, where he enjoys spending time with his family, experiencing the outdoors and maintains a passion for anything with wheels. 

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Tableau helps people see and understand data. As the world’s leading analytics platform, Tableau offers visual analytics with powerful AI, data management and collaboration. From individuals to organizations of all sizes, customers around the world love using Tableau’s advanced analytics to fuel impactful, data-driven decisions.

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