Tableau’s Data Software Shows How Outdated Microsoft Really Is


Tableau Software (NYSE:DATA) announced an update to its data visualization software that makes it all too clear that Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) PowerPoint is no longer compatible with the way that people obtain, analyze, and present data.

As The New York Times reports, Tableau’s version 8.2 will enable users to shift from creating individual maps and charts toward using a series of data visualizations to tell a story. The software will enable users to present a case using a series of data points, placing narrative boxes above each illustration to highlight different data points and progress through them to build a case.

This threatens Microsoft’s PowerPoint as the presentation standby not because of a slick new interface, or flashy designs for the same, standard charts. Instead, Tableau functions in a fundamentally different way than PowerPoint, easily working with the way that people obtain data online instead of assuming that the data for a presentation has already been collected, downloaded, and arranged.

Imagine the way that you might have assembled data for a presentation five years ago. You probably would have carefully compiled the data you needed, placing numbers in neat columns in an Excel document, perhaps entering them from paper documents or copying them from files that someone had emailed you. You would look carefully at that data and figure out what implications it had for the point you were trying to make. You’d arrange it into the appropriate rows and columns, and then as you created your PowerPoint presentation, you would tell the software exactly what you wanted to appear in the chart, perhaps re-entering data and manually choosing colors and shapes to show the rise of sales numbers or the fall of operating costs.

But the problem is: that’s not the way that people work with data anymore.