Saturday, 13 September 2014

The Magic of TCC - My #data14 lookback

Well thats it

Its all over

The biggest event in the Tableau calendar has come to an end. The the Matt Francis conference is over for another year. Ok so the official name for it is the Tableau Conference but it really didn’t feel like that this year. Looking back on it from 31,000 feet as i fly home its all a bit of a blur now to be honest, and thats not due to the fantastic parties. 

So, the best thing about TCC is that you get to meet those people that you interact with on a daily basis, those friends you have never met. You get reacquainted with old friends and put new bodies and voices to avatars you have chatted to over the past year or so. There are too many to name them all but i want to mention a few. I am so lucky to be able to call these people friends, yes even you Andy. Anya, Chuck, Greg, Jonathan, Joe, Francois, Dan,Ramon, Kelly, Ellie, Carl, Peter, Elissa, Paul Squared (or as you might know them Big Paul and Little Paul, you know Banoub and Chapman, you can’t miss them) heck  even the big Double C himself. And the new people that i met for the first time, Mark Jackson, Allan Walker (nee Jackson), Matthew Lutton. Two guys that I met for the first time, and instantly knew we would be friends were Nelson Davis and Dan Montgomery, love you two guys. Of course all the Info Lab guys and girl, Interworks (thank you for the mints!!! love it). There are many many more but my brain is fried and I’m halfway through a complementary gin and tonic, sorry, do you want another, don’;t mind if i do. There is of course one other person that i have to mention and that is my partner in crime, fellow podcast host, rubber duck and best Tableau buddy Emily. Her support has been invaluable over the past year and i thank her for it. There is no doubt in my mind that i wouldn't have had the year i had with out her guidance and encouragement.

There’s just too much to recap in this post, and to be honest its one of those things that you really had to be there to experience, you know like that great night out that you didn’t go to that your mates still talk about 10 years later. You know the one that started in the pub, ended up with that tattoo that you are not sure what it said but sounded like a good idea at the time. So I’ll mention a few highlights. 

First presenting our first timers guide with Emily was a delight. It was great to have a full room, standing room only and having to turn people away. It was the first time this session has been run for conference newbies and i think its something that should be run again, but in a bigger room and publicised more ahead of the conference (come on Tableau. copyright E.Kund). 

Appearing 4 times in the opening keynote was pretty special, ok no it wasn’t. It was….

/turn off British reserve

#$%ing AWESOME!!!!!!!!!

/turn on British reserve

ahem. sorry about that, must the the altitude. But seriously i was blown away by it. Having my mugshot 50ft high on the big screen was amazing. To then have Jock using my Sunspots viz as and example of an (excellent) story point viz was freaking awesome. Then Dave Story demoing the staggeringly beautiful Project Elastic, i needed that, was great. And finally seeing my face in the Enterprise section was just surreal. So that was a pretty good start to the conference overall eh. and it just carried on getting better. 

The highlight of this year was being honoured with the title of Tableau Zen Master. This is an award given to those people that have given back to the community. They are the people that answer posts on the forums, write informative blogs. They produce stunning visual masterpieces, or build tic tac toe in Tableau, or even an Enigma machine. But more than this, they enable all of the community to do the same, by providing inspiration, guidance, advice and time to all those that ask for it. They truly are the best of the community, and I am honoured, humbled and privileged to have been chosen to join them for 2014. So at the end of the conference i found myself on the stage alongside 19 friends, in front of thousands of people, who stood, and applauded us all. And you know what, it was the proudest day of my career. And damn it felt good. My aim for the next 12 months, is to live up to the Zen master name, i hope i can. 

This year the conference was huge. 5000+ Tableau devotees, hundreds of employees all defended upon Seattle to celebrate this software program that we all love. And that is one thing that makes this conference different, love. 

Its clear from looking around, talking to people, seeing the excitement as new features are announced, as new techniques are learnt that Tableau is a bit special. You have a company whose mission statement hasn’t changed since day one. A company that although growing as a huge rate, moving into fantastic new offices (the basketball floor walls are amazing, Carl you would love them) and now on the stock market, still retains the feel of a small tech start-up. The access that the customers have to the dev teams, to the people that design Tableau, build it, create the roadmap is amazing. And its the people that work for Tableau, the devs, the engineers, the sales team, the marketing guys, everyone loves to work for Tableau. And that love, enthusiasm and yearning to share their product with everyone is contagious. I defy anyone that has attend the conference not to have come away with a greater love for Tableau, for the software, for the company, for the idea, for the possibilities. 

The customers are of course the heart of the conference, its for them after all. I would bet all the money in my right pocket (two quarters and a nickel) that there is not another BI tool out there that has as passionate a customer base than Tableau. And that enthusiasm, the willingness to travel continents to attend 4 days of talks, meet ups, parties and workshops is why we all attended. Yes, you can watch the videos, follow the tweets but its the buzz in the air thats where the magic is. Something about being is such close proximity to people that love the same thing, that share a common passion is intoxicating. 

The feeling you get at TCC is the same as a big sporting occasion. You put together a football crowd, tens of thousands of supporters, all cheering on the same team and you get an atmosphere. An energy that magnifies the experience all the more. Think about it, the difference between watching a football game at home on the TV and being there in person. You are seeing exactly the same game, the same players, the same goals, but its the atmosphere that makes it. 

And thats the magic of TCC.


Author & Editor

Tableau Zen Master, Social Ambassador, Wrangler of Data, Vizzer of Data


  1. Great summary Matt! I'm so happy that you are part of the TZM gang. See you next year!

    1. Thanks Andy, it feels good to be part of the gang

  2. Finally! You attribute something to me ;) I am over the moon for you and I am quite confident that you'll continue to be a great resource for the tableau community. Cheers!

  3. Matt -
    Fantastic words and beautiful summary. I second every thought. I was a real pleasure getting to meet you and the rest of the amazing TZM gang. Here's to getting together before Vegas (some how some way)

  4. Great wrap-up Matt!! Well done, and well deserved on becoming a Zen Master!!

  5. Great wrap up, Matt. Glad you had such a good time. Let's just drop the Allan Jackson gaffe shall we? :-)

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  7. Wonderful summary :P LOVE fulfilled TC14