Tableau is the new Apple

I watch Tableau Software CEO Christian Chabot demonstrate Tableau visual-analysis and I can’t help think of Steve Jobs and Mac OS X. Chabot has the same bright stage presence, and his product has the same simplicity and elegance. Like Mac, Tableau makes you love it.

In Monday’s keynote, Chabot couldn’t pace. The conference’s overflow crowd left little room for the tiny stage. His address had none of the self-conscious cool of a Jobs production and more reason and humor. This is a business crowd, not a consumer one, and he connected.

The world will be at Tableau’s doorstep soon enough—though I can’t quite understand why it’s not there yet. I suppose that most people have a hard time accepting a radically new product. Perhaps it’s like what happens among strangers at one of those round banquet tables. Do you remember how the conversation stumbles along with polite conversation until someone says something thoughtful? That’s a good time to refill your water glass, because nothing else will happen until people come out of shock.

There are more than enough stories going around to write the article due next week for BI This Week. If I had to boil down all the stories I’ve heard so far from users about Tableau software, it would go like this: We heard about it or found it somewhere, perhaps by chance. We had data to analyze, and someone said let’s try that visualization thing you have. Wow, in a day or so we had figured out something astounding about the data. We’ve been using it ever since.

It’s a company to watch.