Origins of Tableau’s Japanese Community: Stories of a small turned mighty group

The magic of the Tableau Community spans across languages and countries. There’s a huge Tableau Community in Asia Pacific, and one of the biggest is the Japan DataFam. In order to understand how it all began, we spoke with one of the founding members of Japan’s Tableau User Group, Hiroki Maeda, as well as Tableau employees who were around since the beginning. This is their story.

Speaking with Hiroki, he shared that he was first introduced to Tableau in 2008 by an American friend. At the time, he led a team that created reports for all the departments in his organization, resulting in many late nights spent with Excel. But after using Tableau once, he was WOWed! Although the platform wasn’t available in Japanese at the time, he still found using it saved him significant time.

Despite the language barrier, Hiroki was able lessen his burden through Tableau and found himself scouring through Forums pages to get his questions answered whenever he encountered a hurdle. Hiroki drew inspiration from the likes of Joe Mako, a former Tableau Zen Master and his blogs to sharpen his skills.

The generosity of the Tableau Community combined with his enjoyment of using the product was the beginning of his love story with Tableau. The phrase, “The Community will not let you fail,” really came through, and as he became a better user, he wanted to give back.

“In 2013, when the Japan office opened, there was a launch party and I met Christian Chabot. When we spoke about the value of Tableau’s Community, I remember Christian saying, ‘You should be our first user group leader. Community is very important for Tableau.’ That was the beginning of my ‘assignment.’”

“In 2013, when the Japan office opened, there was a launch party and I met Christian Chabot. When we spoke about the value of Tableau’s Community, I remember Christian saying, ‘You should be our first user group leader. Community is very important for Tableau.’ That was the beginning of my ‘assignment.’”

Tableau was relatively unknown in Japan, but that all changed in 2014 when Hiroki began the first Tableau User Group in Tokyo. It provided an opportunity for local users that were not comfortable with English to share knowledge, learn best practices, and connect with one another.

Since then, the Tableau user base in Japan has grown exponentially. Hiroki fondly recalled how it grew to sub-groups for cities such as Osaka and even industries such as Retail and BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) for Japanese customers with similar interests. These local meetups provided a platform and an opportunity for new users to connect with advanced Tableau users and learn from them.

Looking back, the Japanese Community has flourished from the small beginnings of a few energised Tableau users meeting at bars to talk data and analytics to now having more than 2,000 followers on their Techplay page (where people sign up for upcoming meetups), 700-plus Tableau Forum members, and 1400-plus Forum posts. Not only has this allowed user group members to gain new Tableau skills and expertise, but life long friendships, too. Hiroki spoke about how the community conversations around data expanded to forming fishing and cycling groups together. 

With this growth and evolution, the Japan Tableau Community most recently expanded into fostering a connection with the Salesforce Trailblazer Community in Japan and created Tabforce—a place for Tableau and Salesforce users to come together and learn.

The Tableau Community truly is special and the connections people make through their love of data is remarkable. We are truly grateful and inspired by our User Group Leaders that continue to connect with their local communities in a virtual world during the pandemic. When people are united by data, anything is possible.

To seek and connect with your local DataFam, take a look at our list of Tableau User Groups!

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