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Making Data Coherent Drives Salesforce’s $15.3 Billion Deal for Tableau

SAN FRANCISCO — Technology vendors have been going on for years about the rising value of data. But information that can’t be understood is not worth much. That recognition is now driving some costly bets, topped on Monday by Salesforce’s $15.3 billion deal to buy Tableau Software, a Seattle-based maker of widely used tools for turning arrays of numbers into more understandable charts, graphs and maps. The all-stock transaction is the largest in a string of acquisitions by Salesforce, which is based in San Francisco. Less than a week ago, Google announced plans to pay $2.6 billion for Looker, a fast-growing start-up that also helps customers analyze business data. “Business analytics and intelligence is on fire,” said Howard Dresner, chief research adviser at Dresner Advisory Services, which specializes in the data analytics industry. If a company isn’t able to make sense of all its data quickly, “you are at a competitive disadvantage.”