Wednesday, 18 November 2015

My #data15 Hangover : Surviving the Tableau Conference

Well I survived Vegas, just. It's been a few weeks now since that epic week in a small Nevada town where 12,000 data geeks descended and shared an amazing experience. So it's only now that I can look back on that week and assess just what happened. 

 Flying into Las Vegas, the first thing that struck me was just how close to the strip the airport was. Sure I had seen it on google maps but it was a shock at just how close it really was. I guess this is because for most places, the city comes first, grows and then planes arrived years later. In the case of Las Vegas the planes were part of the growth to begin with. Actually walking around the strip was a surreal experience, you are seeing landmarks, places that you have seen in countless films and tv shows and now you are actually there, it's quite an odd feeling.  Suddenly these casinos and hotels you have heard of become real, it's the same as when you first meet someone that you have followed on twitter for years. That is a feeling a lot of people had this year at #data15. 

TCC got big!!!

What I wasn't prepared for though was the scale of everything, both the hotels, the strip and the conference itself. Last year in Seattle there were 5500, this year double that. But bizarrely I still managed to bump into all my old friends as I was walking around. Last year I wrote about the magic of TCC

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 it's the atmosphere that makes it. 
 And you know what, it's still true, despite the size, the scale the sheer number of people, it still had a magic about it. The audience is slightly different now though. With Tableau becoming bigger, more and more people are now having Tableau "forced upon" them. It's no longer the case that everyone at conference, or at least the majority discovered and fell in love with Tableau, reads the blogs, the forums, knows who the Zens are. To many people, most of those first timers to TCC, Tableau was just another program that their IT team installed on their desktop and they were told to use. But after TCC I think they must see that it's much more, there is a buzz, a passion around Tableau that is just not normal. 

Live For One Day Only...

So of course for me the biggest highlight of the week was presenting my talk, all 320 slides worth. This would be great at any conference, but when the schedule was published I had a little look to see what room I had been put in. It said GGA. GGA? whats that, so I looked at the map and saw Grand Garden Anex and thought ok, thats cool. It was only when I got an email about my tech check did  realise that I would be performing at the Grand Garden Arena, at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. And that was quite an exciting prospect. I prepped my talk, finished my slides, practiced it, got feedback, rewrote it and all was well. That is until the first keynote and the first time I saw the room. 

And then the panic set it, oh it's an arena, 12,000 people are going to be in here. Now I knew I wasn't going to get that many people come along, but it's still pretty damn epic.

TCC is like 'Nam or Woodstock, you weren't there man, you don't know

I tweeted out this, and for me it's really what #data15 was all about. 

Matt Francis

Author & Editor

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


  1. I really enjoyed this place and you can definitely find me here for more events. I didn't eat anything when on my recent visit to these party venues, but those around me had truffle fries, pizza, and wings all seemed to enjoy.