Seven years ago this week….

I paid for my first Tableau license 7 years ago today (15 Jan 2008). To say that changed my life is not an understatement.
I was a struggling data analyst using outdated, unsupported, inflexible BI tools provided by an underfunded, overworked IT department. I had a team of people who would spend 3 weeks producing 1 report for 1 faculty at the University of Oxford.
In desperation I searched the web for anything that might help me escape these shackles. I found this post by Stephen Few and clicked the link to this small software company’s website.
By the end of that afternoon, I had produced more useful analytics than we could do in a month. That was the afternoon my life changed. I put together a use case. Here it is:
The notes I made for my business case to buy 1 license of Tableau Desktop
The notes I made for my business case to buy 1 license of Tableau Desktop
Note that one of my risks is “not enough functionality” (this was v3.5). That was true but what it did was better than any single piece of software I have ever used. The great news is that Tableau is now a super-powerful machine.
Note also that the notes are written on an Oracle notepad. Ha! Take that, Oracle!
Looking back on my initial work, I am amazed I was pleased with what I was producing.
Some of my first work with Tableau
Some of my first work with Tableau
My experienced eyes see these views as unsophisticated and untidy. But the emotion I remember at the time was one of joy. I was playing with my data. I was asking and answering questions as quickly as I could think of them. I was unleashed.
I stayed at the University of Oxford for 4 great years. Over those years at Oxford, I began blogging, organised the first Tableau user group, and spoke at Tableau conferences. I was having more fun using a piece of software than I could have imagined.
You’re not supposed to enjoy using business applications. That’s just wrong. But this was FUN. So much that I would use Tableau at home for personal projects. Can you imagine using other BI tools at home for fun?
It. Just. Doesn’t. Happen.
My amazing farewell cake from my colleagues at Oxford.
My amazing farewell cake from my colleagues at Oxford.
In 2011 Tableau was growing in Europe and I joined the company; it’s 6th European employee. My first desk was shared with a photocopier. It’s been just as much fun ever since and I am grateful to have had this opportunity. I’ve made amazing friends at work. I’ve travelled to amazing places. And I’ve been inspired by the incredible community this product has produced.
I now get  visibility of the product roadmap – I am very confident the next 7 years are going to be as amazing as the first 7.


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You beat me by less than 2 months. My 7th anniversary is 3/10/08, although I was in my trial period in February 2008. You know something is amazing when you remember your software anniversary! My wife must think that Tableau is just a code name for my mistress! Wow. What a ride I have experienced, too. Great article.


Has it been seven years? I got my first license in the fall of 2007, rolled over the trial license until I actually paid for it early in 2008 (I think), and remember seeing your contributions to the Tableau forums when they were small enough to know pretty much everyone.

I, too, absolutely loved Tableau when I encountered it for what it made simple, straightforward, and easy. Still do.

Congratulations, Andy.

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