Building the Next Generation of AI-Driven Analytics

In our “Engineering Energizers” Q&A series, we explore the extraordinary journeys of engineering leaders who have achieved success in their specific domains. Today, we meet John He, Vice President of Software Engineering, who leads the development of Einstein Copilot for Tableau — an innovative tool that redefines how users interact with their data, making complex analysis simpler and more intuitive than ever before.

Join John’s AI team as they revolutionize this tool, overcome infrastructure complexities, and take data analysis to the next level.

What is your AI team’s mission?

Our mission is to revolutionize the data analysis process for Tableau customers. We have developed an AI-driven conversational interface that makes analytics tools accessible to all, eliminating the need for extensive learning or prior knowledge of analytics tools.

With Einstein Copilot for Tableau, users can simply ask questions about their datasets and receive quick insights to understand and take action on their data.

Our primary focus is to assist Tableau customers with analytics tasks, such as discovering opportunities and researching the reasons behind events or trends. For instance, sales teams can leverage Einstein Copilot for Tableau to analyze data, generate analytics, identify opportunities, and gain a deeper understanding of consumer behavior. Armed with these invaluable insights, businesses can make informed decisions to drive growth and success.What complexities were involved in building the AI infrastructure for Einstein Copilot for Tableau?

One of the primary challenges was prioritizing the development of a benchmarking system. This system collects data from various sources and plays a crucial role in evaluating the effectiveness of question and answer interactions. To optimize the data processing workflow, the team invested significant resources in developing telemetry and data pipelines.

Enhancing the intelligence capabilities of Einstein Copilot for Tableau was another key focus. This involved:

Integrating both standard and customized models into the production environment. The Salesforce Einstein Trust Layer was utilized to protect the request and response. To ensure the suitability of these models, the team relied on the benchmarking system to evaluate model performance and make informed decisions.

Grounding with authorized customer data. We intelligently sent minimal data to LLMs while maintaining the top-level security. The metadata are initlally used by field identification, and the algorithm may further look into the value of dimensions so as it could make the context more precisely

Generating code from enriched context, with Tableau best practices in mind. The code included the calculation or notional spec and were converted to visualization by the Viz platform. The team aimed to ensure that customers could benefit from the best available options and that the intelligence provided was transparent. This meant avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach and instead tailoring the models to suit each customer’s individual needs.

What obstacles does your team face in terms of accuracy and efficiency while developing Einstein Copilot for Tableau?

First, we face the challenge of accurately interpreting user questions and translating them into the appropriate code in Tableau’s programming languages include VizQL and Notional Spec. While we have a working model for this, we are continuously striving to improve its accuracy and reduce any hallucinations in the translation.

Additionally, we are tackling the problem of knowledge generation in analytics. This involves enhancing prerequisite knowledge, which includes addressing data quality, reliability, accuracy, data source updates, data coverage, and potential limitations or biases. We also focus on generating descriptive knowledge that provides accurate and informative summaries specific to different domains.

Lastly, we are working on automating visualization generation based on user data and queries, like Sora in OpenAI, which can generate video with a few prompts. To achieve this, we are developing a supervised fine-tune LLM model that can efficiently transform data into multi-modal answerers with visualization. This significantly reduces the time and effort required for analysis. The resulting visualizations can be rendered in Tableau or presented in Copilot chat box, providing users with quick and insightful visual representations of their data.

What were the key technical challenges for improving the AI and core capabilities of Einstein Copilot for Tableau?

One of the primary challenges was finding more data to train and improve the intelligence of the system. To address this, the team shifted its focus to:

Synthesized data. We are continuously refining our analytical data generation algorithms to enhance the quality of the model and streamline the process.

Tableau Public. A community-driven platform that hosts millions of reports, visualizations and data sources. This platform attracts a large user base and collects a diverse range of data. By providing free access to the technology, the Tableau community can also contribute their data, further enriching the dataset.

Additionally, the team needed to balance Copilot’s accuracy, speed and creativity, which required careful tuning. The team developed a novel analytical specification that enhances the speed of interpreting user intent for Tableau system capabilities while maintaining accuracy. To balance accuracy and creativity in Einstein Copilot for Tableau, the team leveraged the temperature concept from LLMs. By adjusting the temperature, which represents the level of creativity in AI responses, they can control the accuracy of the answers provided. This ensures that the responses are generated from factual information and meet user expectations. Keeping the temperature lower reduces the risk of hallucination and provides users with reliable and accurate insights.

Continuous improvement was another crucial aspect the team prioritized. To enhance the user experience of Einstein Copilot for Tableau, an experimental platform called Zeus was utilized. This platform facilitates systematic engineering, intent detection, and knowledge generation, enabling the team to identify areas for improvement and continuously enhance the capabilities of Copilot.

Einstein Copilot for Tableau’s end-to-end architecture.

Can you explain the collaboration between the Einstein Copilot for Tableau team and the Salesforce AI Research team?

The collaboration is key for tackling the tough technical challenge of improving Einstein Copilot for Tableau’s question relevance and response quality. To address this, the team collects questions that may be unrelated to the user’s query. These problematic questions are then forwarded to the AI Research team, who use the data to build models that would help improve the quality of Copilot’s responses over time.

One example of collaboration involved intent classification. While Einstein Copilot for Tableau’s software could support multiple intents, there was still an error rate of around 20% in accurately classifying user intent. To handle this, our team collected feedback data, including user feedback and test cases, and shared it with the AI Research team, who then built a smaller, fine-tuned language model specifically for intent classification, aiming to improve accuracy and reduce the error rate.

How do you approach AI testing and quality assurance for Einstein Copilot for Tableau?

As mentioned, we have developed a benchmarking system that we continuously build upon. This asset covers various domains and industry data, allowing us to thoroughly test different scenarios and ensure high coverage.

Next, we leverage the AI capabilities of Einstein Copilot for Tableau itself for testing. We use one model to generate answers and then employ another one to grade them. This cross-testing approach helps us validate the accuracy and reliability of the AI-generated responses.

Additionally, customer feedback and vendor labeling data are utilized to optimize Einstein Copilot for Tableau’s models and enhance its out-of-the-box capabilities.

By combining these approaches, we ensure accurate results and maintain the highest standards of quality.

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