Stock market analysts trampled all over Tableau Software Inc. this week after the ‘darling of Big Data’ slashed its guidance on next quarter’s earnings. That move caused profit-hungry shareholders to recoil in horror, and resulted in Tableau’s stock losing more than half of its value in a single day.
To recap, Tableau’s stock was trading at $81.75 on Monday morning ahead of its latest earnings call, but collapsed to below $40 on Tuesday. This happened in reaction to Tableau lowering its earnings expectations to between $830 million and $850 million, down from its previous guidance of $845 million to $865 million. In addition, although Tableau’s revenues surpassed analysts expectations, its overall performance was way softer than usual – revenues were just one percent above expectations, compared to between 7 and 17 percent above expectations in its previous six quarters.
Tableau’s still on Top
For sure Tableau’s performance was a big disappointment for Wall Street’s money men, and the timing was somewhat unfortunate because it happened in the same week that research firm Gartner Inc. released its 2016 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms. At first glance the report didn’t look so encouraging for Tableau, which seemingly lost ground to rival companies like Microsoft and Qlik, providing yet more ammunition for the company’s naysayers.
That may be so, but Tableau is still sitting pretty as Gartner’s top dog in the BI and Analytics world, and a closer look at the Magic Quadrant reveals that almost every other vendor lost ground as well this year, including giants like IBM, SAP SE and Oracle, which didn’t even make the cut.
Indeed, it’s important to note that Gartner said it was redefining what BI and analytics platforms should look like in an era where businesses are demanding greater access for their employees to fast-moving intelligence. It said that BI and Analytics tools are becoming a fundamental aspect of businesses’ entire IT infrastructure, easily accessed by users who need the intelligence, rather than a discrete tool provisioned and allocated by central IT.
“The evolution and sophistication of the self-service data preparation and data discovery capabilities in the market have shifted the focus of buyers in the BI and analytics market — toward easy-to-use tools that support a full range of analytic workflow capabilities and do not require significant involvement from IT to predefine data models up front as a prerequisite to analysis,” Gartner said in its report. “This significant shift has accelerated dramatically in recent years and has finally reached a tipping point that requires a new perspective on the BI and analytics Magic Quadrant and underlying BI platform definition — to better align with the rapidly evolving buyer and seller dynamics in this complex market.”
In other words, what Gartner’s saying is that both business users and IT are now looking to buy and use analytics software, as opposed to just IT, which means there should be lots more room for growth in what’s still a relatively nascent industry.
Room for Growth
It’s also important to remember that, regardless of what shareholders might think about the company, Tableau’s software is still viewed by many as the best BI and analytics solution around, bar none. Aaron Auld, CEO of EXASOL AG, a provider of an in-memory database for analytics and data warehousing, said that the majority of business users still perceive Tableau’s solution as the best of the best.
“I have seen at first-hand how users just “get” Tableau first time,” Auld said. “Users understand how easy it is to load data and then bring it to life through building intelligent visualizations that are so much easier to comprehend than looking at rows and columns in a database table or an Excel spreadsheet. Make no mistake, Tableau’s customers love the product.”
Evidence of this “love” for Tableau’s products can actually be seen in the company’s earnings too. Despite the last quarter, Tableau actually posted revenue growth of 58 percent year-on-year, which amounts to a stunning ten times the growth of the IT industry as a whole.
Tableau’s growth might have stalled temporarily, but clearly there’s still room for more expansion. The Business Intelligence market is still one of the healthiest and fastest growing IT segments, and Gartner’s report confirms Tableau is still the number one choice for most buyers. In other words, customers would be well advised to ignore the drama on Wall Street and judge Tableau’s products on merit alone.
“I know for sure that customers and partners will look beyond the ratings of analysts and continue to appreciate what counts: smart, vibrant data visualization technology that makes BI, reporting and analytics easier than ever before,” EXASOL’s Auld said. “Wall Street analysts may be going off Tableau for now, but I can tell you that businesses around the globe are only just getting started.”