5 Replies Latest reply on Mar 16, 2015 12:24 AM by Bora Beran

    Exponential smoothing or Forecasting in tableau

    Kiran v

      I have a few concerns before I build my own model using the forecast models in tableau V8 and if there are any OR/tableau experts out there who have built sustainable models in tableau or people who have wide experience in forecasting models in other software packages including tableau your experience and comments would be highly appreciated.


      This might be more of a 'for IDEAS' kind of post but I thought this is a good platform to reach out to large audience. Before i raise my concerns or questions I would like to post this reply from Scott Tennican sometime last year on exponential smoothing post which I found extremely helpful.

      Forecasting Help (nonlinear and trends and exponential smoothing)


      1. How accurate is forecasting or laying out an exponential smoothing model in Tableau, my concern stems from the fact that not a lot has been written or discussed about this feature on the the global forum. Does that mean people are wary to use it?


      2. I am aware that forecasting model in tableau is very basic and it does not mean to replace other forecasting tools in the marketplace and not suppose to do sophisticated modelling such as MLR or Winters-Holts etc but my question is how many people have already built models and realized that it works to some extent.


      3. How many models that any tableau users have built in tableau using forecast feature have noticed what tableau used using time series data and using exponential smoothing is not bang accurate but considering some errors you considered using this to measure against your actual numbers.


      Any and i mean any help or guidance would be appreciated.




        • 1. Re: Exponential smoothing or Forecasting in tableau
          Michel Cavas

          I can't really comment on how accurate the Tableau forecasting model is, it kinda depends on whether your data will benefit from exponential smoothing being applied to the forecasting model or not.


          However as soon as you find yourself wanting a more advanced way to forecast your data, why not use R? R is integrated in Tableau since version 8.1 I believe.With R you can go really crazy with regard to your forecasting model.

          • 2. Re: Exponential smoothing or Forecasting in tableau
            Kiran v

            Hi Michel,


            I am not a heavy R user but I am sure there might be a written code somewhere on forecasting in R but I have an individual Tableau license I am not sure if i can use the R functionality in tableau without setting up some kind of a R server. I may be completely wrong.

            • 3. Re: Exponential smoothing or Forecasting in tableau
              Michel Cavas

              R is free, and if you are only going to use Tableau desktop with a single license, then it is very easy to set R up. You can run it on the same client as the one you are using Tableau desktop on.

              Turning your R program into a "Rserver" is as simple as entering the following line into R, after you have opened R:

              • first time: install.packages("Rserve"); library(Rserve); Rserve()
              • Every consecutive time R is started: library(Rserve); Rserve()


              See for a guide on how to setup R for Tableau and some examples: Tableau 8.1 and R | Tableau Software

              1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Exponential smoothing or Forecasting in tableau
                Kiran v

                This is very helpful since i can run the script you provided into my Rstudio and manage my Rconnection into my desktop connecting thru localhost. But different procedure for enterprise Tableau server as there has to be a linux host server.


                thanks Michel.

                • 5. Re: Exponential smoothing or Forecasting in tableau
                  Bora Beran

                  Hi Kiran,

                  To be clear Tableau already supports Holt-Winters. You may have heard people mention the term "simple exponential smoothing" in some cases when talking about Tableau's forecasting but model being used is a matter of what your data has e.g. whether it as a trend or if it is additive or multiplicative. R's forecasting package will also do simple exponential smoothing for an ANN model. Mention of simple exponential smoothing doesn't mean forecasting feature is simple or inaccurate.


                  The author of what is considered the best forecasting package in R who also happens to be one of the leading experts in forecasting, Prof. Rob J. Hyndman worked with Tableau as an advisor when this feature was built. Tableau runs tests to compare results with other forecasting packages regularly. So I am not sure what led you to thinking Tableau wasn't using Holt-Winters or the results were incorrect. That being said, Tableau doesn't capture all cases covered in the R forecasting package so with some datasets, you may not get a result from Tableau (i.e. a flat line) where R would give you a forecast. For example R package also has ARIMA which Tableau doesn't currently have.


                  If you could share them, I would love to see the datasets you are getting conflicting predictions from Tableau and R.


                  Thank you,