I just got back from the Tableau Partner Summit ’15 held in lovely Las Vegas, and it was a great trip in so many ways. Learning about new features on Tableau, seeing some Las Vegas attractions, and interacting with friendly English folk made for a very eventful time.
First, it was my first trip to the southeast Unites States. Having that happen during the winter was particularly appreciated! I was surprised on the taxi ride to the Cosmopolitan to see so many mountains surrounding Las Vegas, even one that was snow capped. The cabby told me that the day before most of the surrounding mountains were graced with snow before being promptly melted off throughout the day.
I can’t say it was a surprise to see so many lights/screens/sounds/smells when entering the Cosmopolitan, but my expectations of complete excess was really not exceeded. Other than the faint smell of cigarettes in nearly every room you step into, most of the Las Vegas feel wasn’t surprisingly big/flashy. It actually was like a stretched out Times Square, where the number of bulbs was perhaps slightly greater but considerably less concentrated.
The typical Las Vegas attraction was unnecessarily gaudy. The Mirrage Volcano was neat, but nothing special. The Forum shops were different, but “eh.” Fremont Street was neat in its reflection of the Vegas history, but the Fremont Street Experience was distracting more than anything. The replications of Paris and New York were glossy versions of their originals and felt way too artificial to be appreciated. Gambling? Yeah, I did it to say I did it and I can understand how it floats some boats, but Las Vegas isn’t terrifically unique in this aspect. The casino floors didn’t look too different from what you can find in the 20+ Wisconsin casinos.
The exception? The Bellagio Fountain. The creativity and execution of the Fountain was outstanding and the only thing really entertaining in Vegas.
I will admit I was not able to see any Vegas shows or go “clubbing” (which I don’t see myself ever doing), so perhaps this could have helped my overall impression for Las Vegas to be what it claims to be.
Although my time spent was mostly in the city, the next rendezvous will have to include drives to Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. Maybe even the Grand Canyon.
Second, Tableau proves to be a great host! As a Tableau Partner, I found so much information to be useful in understanding the more technical aspects of the software. What they have coming up in version 9.0 is also extremely exciting. Getting demos of some significant new features was enlightening. I can safely say that I am so appreciative to SVA Consulting for allowing me to have this opportunity.
The only feature I will say anything about here is the Level of Detail (LOD) you can specify in Calculated Fields is a breakthrough that will be used so often that one will wonder how Tableau was ever used without it. Aggregates of Aggregates, c’mon. The level of control of data is now starting to rival established competitors where control is what they (almost exclusively) sell.
Needless to say, I am very optimistic for the future of Tableau.
Third, the people were great. Yes, most of them were Tableau Partner Summit goers and it was great to get professional takes on the current state of the Business Intelligence industry. One particular conversation was with a Tableau Technology Partner executive from Silicon Valley. How she described the culture out there made it extremely appealing for me to consider as a future landing spot in my career. My ties in Madison are too strong to even start considering this in the near future, but it is absolutely on my far future list.
Hanging around my favorite Las Vegas spot (#BellagioFountain), I struck up a friendly conversation with northern English lady. Although I mistook her accent for French (I think it was the replica Eiffel Tower that influenced this), she was kind enough to keep talking to me. My interest for England definitely manifested itself as I asked about accents, geography, weather, performing arts, etc… She also played along with a few (I can only imagine as polite) questions about Wisconsin.
Ultimately, the time spent in Las Vegas was eventful and one that I am glad happened.