datafam + ohana = awesomeness

When Salesforce acquired Tableau in August of 2019, two worlds collided. This was an event of much more significance than many previous technology acquisitions, like that of EdgeSpring or BeyondCore, because Tableau had a large, passionate and devoted “DataFam” community. The impact upon both Salesforce and Tableau communities was broad, with far-reaching consequences upon business users and technology professionals across the globe. 

While recently chatting with my DataFam friend, Adam Mico, this topic came up for discussion. Both of us agreed that the confluence of Tableau and Salesforce worlds had opened up some amazing opportunities, but it had also created a number of challenges. As two long-time evangelists in our respective communities, we felt that we might be able to articulate these opportunities and challenges and help foster a healthy dialogue among our respective tribes. 

That is the purpose of this post. We hope that you will consider our perspectives and engage in a thoughtful and fruitful conversation on the matter. Please feel free to comment on the post or reach out to us for clarification or discussion. 

Note that the format of this article is different from the one I usually use, being more of an interview style. I hope you find it helpful!

Please tell us a little about yourself

Adam — I started working with Tableau after being introduced to it in 2013. At that point, I was nearly 40 and working as an unemployment insurance staff development coordinator. I loved the tool immediately as it had so much more potential than Excel, and much more fun to use than SAP Business Objects. I ultimately evolved from a SME to product owner for unemployment, which allowed me to change my career to a data analyst after 40. I re-classed to the highest level of a data analyst within two years, got bored, and wanted to give back and be part of something with likeminded people. Little did I know, that would evolve to helping me become a Tableau evangelist for Keyrus US (global data consultancy) in 2021, and subsequently to Principal, Data Visualisation and Enablement for Moderna the past year.  

Mark — I began my technology journey late in life, at age 48, when I was asked to implement Salesforce for a small business. I had never heard of a CRM or Salesforce, but I was unemployed and broke, and it looked intriguing, so I dived in. This soon led to working with data and analytics, first with Einstein Analytics (now CRM Analytics), then with Tableau. I knew after one week of building advanced analytics that I had found my happy place! I co-founded and co-led a Salesforce and Tableau partner business in 2018, then left to join Tableau as a Solution Engineer in January of 2022. I now get to use CRM Analytics and Tableau to help our customers solve their business problems and data challenges – how cool is that?

provide some background to this discussion – the strong Tableau and SalesForce communities prior to the acquisition, the acquisition itself, and the process of adjustment since. 

Adam — Oddly enough, I had just joined the #DataFam community two days after the acquisition. At that point, I was too new to see the impact on the community, but everything seemed normal and, in fact, it felt that Tableau community was independent. We did not really begin seeing the Salesforce influence until last year, and even more pronounced right before 2022 Tableau Conference. The community adjustment has been complex as there are so many factors at play: identity, the products, and some of the skillsets are diverse.

Mark — I have been deeply embedded and highly active in the Salesforce community since my journey began in 2016, and more recently got involved in the #DataFam community in early 2022. As a Salesforce Admin Group leader, event speaker, and content writer, I have always been passionate about giving back. The confluence of the two communities – Ohana and #DataFam – has been fascinating to observe and challenging to navigate. 

How are our two communities similar?

Adam — Both communities are looking to support each member and improve the world around them, offer premium learning content for free, have fun social media content, have vibrant user groups, and conference fanatics, and are very inclusive.

Mark — Ditto to what Adam said. Also, both communities are passionate about innovation, growth, and community. I sense a deep love for technology, not for the sake of the tech itself, but for the good that it can do.

How are our two communities different?

Adam — Tableau has many tools, but a big focus is on one product that can be shared publicly – that love of Tableau Desktop is the binding factor for many people in the #DataFam, being able to share in growth and community through the (primarily) singular tool makes it easier to blend all members of the #DataFam. Also, the Tableau Community felt more community than company driven. Tableau has always been there to support us, but it’s been much quieter and behind-the-scenes.

Mark — The Salesforce community is much more diverse from a technology and skills perspective, and is also significantly larger in membership. The developer segment of the Salesforce community is highly active and deeply technical. I think that the Salesforce community has been more overtly supported and promoted by Salesforce, but it has also been spearheaded by some incredibly passionate community members, such as admin and dev group leaders, content authors, and platform trailblazers. We lack the power of Tableau Public to showcase our work, so have relied upon Trailblazer profiles (Trailhead).

“He said / she said”
  1. Pet peeves about the other ecosystem
    — Some of the marketing using cartoon characters have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, given the seriousness and impact our tools have. I have since mellowed based on listening to why the mascots are used, and by communicating with many at Salesforce and the #Trailblazer community, but it’s hard to embrace, given the people-focused community we are.
    Mark — I really don’t have any pet peeves about the #DataFam – I have found the #DataFam to be very welcoming and approachable since I got involved in 2021. 
  2. Favourite story from your ecosystem
    — There are so many wonderful stories, with the common thread around those that really commit and focus on up-skilling over time to change their lives. People from all backgrounds (professional and personal) have successfully transitioned to data visualisation and found a platform after so many years of being unfulfilled and having no voice or platform. My favourite is Alice McKnight, which is detailed here:
    Mark — My favourite story is the one of my dear friend, Zac Otero, that inspired me as an accidental Salesforce admin:
    Zac’s story of curiosity, ingenuity and persistence shows the world how much an individual can accomplish in our ecosystem if they grab an opportunity with both hands and run with it! 
  3. Values discussion
    — Our values focus on providing data in its most accessible form, while challenging ourselves creatively and looking for new ways to extend data visualisation. We want to welcome everyone into our community regardless of where you come from and how many followers you have in social media. We want everyone in our community to give back in their own way to help others reach their goals.
    Mark — Our values are almost identical to those of the #DataFam, and the Salesforce community has proven to be a highly accepting and nurturing place to grow. The main reason that I see our new joint community thriving is due to our common values and ideas – these will enable us to overcome any hurdles and be the stronger for it.
  4. How have you given back lately in your ecosystem? 
    — I always wish that I can give more, what with a challenging career and writing a book. I have and continue to mentor people, and also act as an informal mentor to people who reach out. Also, I have led Tableau User Group discussions on Best Data Visualisation Practices for Business Applications for numerous venues.
    Mark — I often run educational sessions on CRM Analytics and Tableau in my own time, as well as authoring blogs and having one-on-one mentoring sessions. Speaking virtually at Pakistani Dreamin’ last year was one of my favourite sessions.
  5. Coolest aspect of the technology
    — I love that Tableau is always evolving and bringing in newer AI functionalities while continually improving the core product. Tableau is known worldwide as the best-in-class for business data visualisation, and I am confident with the ways the product is being extended – we can push the tool further than one could have imagined.
    Mark — The confluence of Salesforce, CRM Analytics, Genie and Tableau is incredibly exciting, and I can’t wait to see where this takes us! I also love the ongoing development of augmented analytics, infusing AI into the user experience, across our platforms.
  6. Good experiences and memories with the datafam or Ohana
    — I’m fortunate enough to have so many. It’s pretty close to a thousand-way tie! My 1st #DataFam meeting right before the pandemic: and not being mortified by failure as I always have before — amazing! As an autistic person, having that is truly life altering – it was the 1st time I felt that I was ever able to do a trust fall in public because I knew I would be caught by my #DataFam friends. However, I have had so many life-altering and affirming experiences since then. One thing I will point out about Ohana is that the community is so welcoming and has been nothing but helpful and kind.
    Mark — So many to choose from! When I began sharing my personal story (engineer, pastor, breakdown, Salesforce), I was blown away by how supportive, encouraging, inspiring and helpful people were from all over the world. Then I got to meet them at Dreamforce! Wow. 
Where to from here?

Adam — I will be releasing my book shortly: “Tableau Desktop Specialist Certification: Your primer to geared toward multiple learning styles to prepare you to ace the Tableau Desktop Exam“. I will also be preparing to participate in DATA Saber with my great friend, KT. After my apprenticeship, we hope to work together to develop an English version of her very successful Japanese program. It would be completely free except with the expectation of paying it forward. Also, I am working on other things too that cannot yet be shared.

Mark — Who knows? I am currently focused on building my Genie and Snowflake skills, as well as growing in expertise with Tableau Desktop and Cloud. Very interested in the product lifecycle for all of our amazing platforms. I will continue to write and speak across both the Tableau and Salesforce communities, giving back and providing value where I can.

What should you do?

Get involved with our communities!

Footnote: These thoughts represent our personal opinions and in no way represent the views of Salesforce or Tableau.

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