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James Eiloart, Senior vice president EMEA, Tableau

Path to power

 

I’ve always been attracted to disruptive, game-changing companies that are leading the way in their domain. I think my career path of more than 15 years in data technology - previously at Alterian and now at Tableau - is testament to that. Empowering and motivating individuals and teams to do their best work is what I’ve always been passionate about and seeing them succeed is what inspires me. I’m a software guy and a data guy. I’ve spent a lot of time in my career helping people and businesses harness the power of new technology to create opportunities and achieve results that surpass expectations. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning and I expect it will continue to do so for years to come.

 

What has been the highlight of your career in the industry to date?

 

Presenting alongside global health organisation PATH at our annual conference and listening to the incredible progress of our Visualise No Malaria campaign, which has already reduced malaria-related deaths by 90% in Zambia. We’ve been working with PATH since 2015 to help the Zambian government develop a real-time disease surveillance system for tracking and treating malaria cases. And it’s working! Plus, the initiative is being replicated in Senegal where there is already a 60% drop in reported cases. An initiative to be proud of.

 

If you could give your younger self some advice about how to progress in this industry, what would it be?

 

Think laterally, not linearly. It’s tempting to just think about the internal applications of data and analytics. But discovering creative ways to monetise data or embedded analytics solutions that really drive customer satisfaction and loyalty can turn out to be more fun, innovative and ultimately valuable for your business. Yes, 2018 turned out exactly as I expected it to. I totally foresaw the mayhem of Brexit, the dysfunctional Trump administration, England reaching the World cup semi-finals! Bringing it back to our industry, I fully expected and was delighted to see more organisations making significant progress in replacing their traditional BI platforms with modern alternatives, which will bring the power of analytics to more people.

 

What do you expect 2019 to be like for the industry?

 

2019 will be an exciting year. We’ll start to see natural language processing (NLP) helping computers to understand the meaning of human language. We’ll see BI vendors incorporate NLP into their platforms, offering a natural language interface to visualisations which enable a human to have a conversation with the system about their data. When people can interact with a visualisation as they would a person, it will allow more and more people of all skill sets to ask deeper questions of their data. As natural language evolves within the BI industry, it will break down barriers to analytics adoption and help further transform workplaces into data-driven, self-service operations.

 

Talent and skills are always a challenge to find - how are you tackling this in your organisation?

 

We hire smart people, but we don’t leave it there, we make sure we invest in their personal development and career paths. As we’ve scaled and grown, we’ve also found more opportunities to introduce school leavers and graduates into our business by making good use of work experience placements and apprenticeship programmes. We also encourage our employees to be open to exploring new career paths at Tableau, which will in turn broaden their skills, experiences and international exposure. This also allows them to work out for themselves where their real passion lies.

 

What aspect of data, analytics or their use are you most optimistic about and why?

 

I’m optimistic that we’re starting to close the gap between data and people - making data less “scary”. We need to tackle it from both ends: first, we should focus on boosting data skills through investment in data literacy programmes and education, including apprenticeships; and, secondly, endeavour to make technology even more simple, useable and intuitive. I’m also very optimistic about the increasing collaboration between technology providers and non-profit organisations to provide data and analytics platforms that can help them respond quickly and effectively to humanitarian disasters. While collaborative projects don’t come without challenges, the continuing growth of the “data for good” movement in 2019 will reflect the altruistic potential of sharing data to solve our most difficult global problems.Data and analytics technology/service provider
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