Tableau CRM (previously known as Einstein Analytics) and Tableau are both amazing tools to gain insights in your data, but how hard are they to learn? Do you have to be a data scientist or a data enthusiast? These are the questions that I tried to answer during my internship at Cloud Innovation. These past weeks I learned the basics of each platform and compared the two. In this blog I’m going to tell you about my experience.

Please note that the content of this blog reflects the user experience these highly innovative Salesforce products provide as of writing this blogpost. Any changes that have occurred after the publication of this post are not reflected in this post. 


Getting to know Tableau CRM

I primarily learned to work with Tableau CRM via Trailhead (the online learning platform of Salesforce), which is totally free! On trailhead you can learn a lot. It’s mostly text-based learning with hands-on challenges to see if you can apply what you learned. Learning on Trailhead is a lot of fun because of the gamification. With every module you complete, you gain points and a shiny new badge as a token of your accomplishment. Currently, there are 40 modules about Tableau CRM.

Before I started learning I had a clear goal in mind. I wanted to gain insights in a simple dataset. I selected 15 modules based on that goal. I strongly recommend having a goal before you start learning in order to stay motivated. If you don’t have a clear goal yet, you can start by completing some beginner modules. After doing a few, it’s going to be easier to define a goal.

If you want to gain insights in your data by creating a dashboard, I recommend the following modules:

The modules listed above are very easy to understand. For these, you definitely don’t need to be a data scientist, you don’t even need to be a data enthusiast. You just have to be eager to learn.

I also did some modules about Einstein Discovery. Einstein Discovery uses machine learning, statistical analysis and artificial intelligence (AI) to augment your data analysis. By using Einstein Discovery, you can quickly find correlations in your data or even make predictions. I found these modules a bit harder to understand. I don’t think that you need to be a data scientist to be able to use this, but I do think that it’s going to take a bit of effort to use this feature effectively.

So, what do I think about Trailhead for Tableau CRM? Overall, it’s a fun environment to learn, especially the hands-on challenges. You can also prove what you learned by showing off your badges and points. Tableau CRM is definitely easy to use, but requires a bit more effort to master completely.


Learning Tableau desktop

Tableau desktop also has an e-learning platform. However, you will need a Tableau license in order to gain access to it. If you’re a student or a teacher, you can get a free license for one year. Otherwise you can get a free trial of 14 days or you will have  to purchase a license.

There’s two types of content on Tableau e-learning: learning paths and courses. Learning paths are made for specific job roles, for example data scientist, developer or data analyst. Courses are a more general information source, for example Tableau Fundamentals, Desktop II Intermediate or Prep Builder. It’s definitely more structured than Trailhead.

I started doing the Tableau Fundamentals course. The way the Tableau e-learning works is a little different than Trailhead. First, they give you a text with information about a particular concept, for example grouping fields. Afterwards, there will probably be a video for you to watch about how to group fields in Tableau Desktop. The next step is guided learning. With guided learning, they show you exactly where to click in order to do something in Tableau desktop. Finally, they will give you an exercise that you can do on your own. After the exercise, they give a little quiz that you can only solve if you solved the exercise correctly. The difficulty of the Tableau Fundamentals course was similar to that of Trailhead. However, I do think that the more advanced courses will be harder than the Trailhead modules.

At first, it was really refreshing to switch from learning on Trailhead to the Tableau e-learning. But after a few hours of the Tableau Fundamentals course, I felt like it was going too slow. They give a lot of detailed information before you can practice hands-on. That’s why I decided to just try and create some diagrams instead of continuing the e-learning.


Trailhead VS the Tableau e-learning platform

Now, let’s compare the two learning platforms. Both platforms have their pro’s and con’s. Trailhead is really fun because of the gamification aspect and there’s a lot of hands-on learning. Everything is also explained very well and you really don’t need any prior knowledge of business intelligence. However, there’s a lot of modules to choose from and it might be hard picking the right ones for you. Additionally there’s a lot of text, so you’re going to have to do a lot of reading.

The Tableau e-learning platform offers a more structured way of learning. Everything is categorised very well and you learn every concept in four different ways: in text, with a video, with guided learning and with a hands-on challenge. This does however mean that you’re going to learn slower than on Trailhead. It’s also less hands-on.

Another big difference between the two is the attention to data preparation. When you have clean data, making dashboards on both platforms is very easy. But one of the main parts of analysing your data is making sure that your data is clean. In the Tableau e-learning platform there’s a whole course, worth 14 hours, dedicated to cleaning data with the Tableau Prep builder. Using the Tableau Prep Builder is also very easy, Tableau even recommends changes to improve your dataset. In Trailhead, cleaning data is briefly mentioned in the “Data Management” and the “Tableau CRM Data Integration Basics” modules, but not enough to be able to fully clean your own dataset.

Overall, I prefer Trailhead for learning. But I think that you’re going to be able to learn more advanced methods of analysing your data with the Tableau e-learning.


Tableau CRM VS Tableau Desktop

Finally, let’s compare the two platforms with each other. I only learned the basics of each platform, so I can’t speak for the more advanced data analysis. For basic visualization there’s actually not a big difference between the two platforms. Additionally, I think that both platforms aren’t that hard to work with. For the diagrams that I built, no coding was required. All I had to do was drag and drop the different fields of the dataset and choose the right diagram type. It’s also very easy to group fields, add filters, etc. 

The biggest difference between the two platforms is what they focus on. I feel like Tableau CRM focuses more on creating the right dashboards to gain insights in your data, while Tableau Desktop focuses more on manipulating your data in order to create the right visualizations. This was also very clear in their learning platforms. For example, in Trailhead they mostly start by building a diagram and afterwards making changes so that you get the correct insights. In Tableau they mostly start with manipulating the data and afterwards making the diagram so you immediately get the right insights. So I think that Tableau CRM is more catered towards people who are just starting their data journey. While Tableau Desktop is catered towards people with a little bit more knowledge about data.


Overall, I don’t really have a preference for any of the two platforms. I think that both platforms are amazing. If you’re looking for a business intelligence tool to use with your Salesforce data, then Tableau CRM is probably the best option. Otherwise, Tableau desktop is probably the best option. You can definitely use both platforms effectively if you’re not a data scientist.