Tableau CEO: This is the ‘golden age’ of data skills

Tableau CEO and President Mark Nelson seeks to improve data literacy and educate workforces by implementing data skills training programs with companies using its software.

Video Transcript

- Welcome back. A record 4.3 million workers quit their jobs in August, many of which are looking to beef up their skills. And here with an inside view is the CEO and President of analytics platform Tableau, Mark Nelson. Mark, thank you for joining us here. Can you just give us-- start out with an overview of the labor market as you see it here and any particular insights that you have vis-a-vis your company.

MARK NELSON: Yeah, of course. This is a time of great change, as we've all seen right. Call it the Great Resignation, or the Great Rejuvenation. Everyone's kind of reevaluating what their relationship with work is. And we're also in this Golden age of data. Every company as we go through this into this all digital world, has more data at their fingertips, and the ability to work with that data is more important than ever.

But there's a big gap there. 83% of CEOs say they want their company to be more data driven, and yet only about a third of the employees say they're comfortable working with data. And so we're at this point in time where there's this amazing craving and need for data skills out in the market.

- And then, sir, I want to ask, you pledged to train 10 million people over the next five years. How do you go about doing that? And how crucial are these skills?

MARK NELSON: Yeah, these skills are super crucial. Data skills are now at the top of the list for everyone who's hiring. And as to how we go about it, it means doing a lot of things. It means doubling down on training programs that we've already had for a long time.

We've had Tableau Academic, where we've reached more than 2 million people over the last 10 years to help train them, our e-learning platform doubling down on that, as well as new channels, such as going with our parent company, Salesforce, and their amazing trailhead training program and opening up a trail there, working with our partners to make sure that we're getting it out across a wide variety of communities. So it's a lot of things across a lot of channels to reach 10 million people in five years.

- Mark, I want to throw out a historical analog here. Tell me if I'm way off base, but this kind of reminds me of the transition we went through many decades ago when I was a kid and with the rise of PCs, because they were very difficult to use in the 1980s. Finally, we got the Windows interface, the graphical user interface, actually with the Macintosh first.

Do you see this as kind of a transition period here, where people are becoming familiar with more complex tools? And where do we emerge when it's just commonplace? Everybody uses a computer now. Will everybody be using data analytics tools in the future at some point?

MARK NELSON: Yeah, I think that's a great analogy, because indeed, we're going from a world where data, working with data, has been a skill for a very few and a specialized job to now where it's a skill for everyone. And that's a combination of people getting more familiar with it, the tools getting way better and way easier, and that just makes it all very much more approachable.

And I think the end game is indeed everyone should be using data right. You should be using data in your work and your personal life. And we have seen this across the last 20 months of the pandemic, as well. We've all started using data in our personal lives as well, as we try to figure out the world around us, whether it's infection rates, vaccination rates, what's going on.

And so this is kind of this Golden age of really working with data is just a necessary life skill. And I think it's a great analogy back to you when we all got used to using PCs and personal computers for everything we do.

- I find it a necessary evil because I fight with technology every single day. But I want to get to my question is, where do you find the biggest laggers to be? Is there a particular demographic? Is it older people? Is it women? Is it minorities? And then how are you closing that gap?

MARK NELSON: Yeah. You know, unfortunately, there's always underserved populations that we really need to go and address. And so as part of our efforts here to train 10 million people, we also announced a $5 million grant from our Tableau Foundation specifically to focus on training women and girls in data literacy.

And then we're also working with partners, like Path Stream, to make sure that this is also going out to, again, traditionally underserved communities, communities of color, women that that, again, unfortunately, just haven't had access to this, to make sure that this is equitable across demographics and across the world.

- Well, you mentioned a grant there. Excuse me, I just want to follow up on that. What kinds of programs are out there from the feds, state, local, whatever, for this kind of job retraining that might involve data analytics training as well?

MARK NELSON: Yeah, there are a ton of programs out there. Again, we've partnered with our Tableau Foundation and Tableau Academic. Some amazing stories coming out of the government of Singapore who ran an effort to try to populate young people in Singapore to governments around the world. And so it's really what we hope to do is enable those type of programs. This isn't all about us. It's about how can we enable organizations to do these amazing things.

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