From the 2013 Tableau Customer Conference!
Seamless Access to the Data—coming in Tableau 8.1 and 8.2
Nothing else matters if you can't get your data into Tableau. This was a common refrain I have said for quite some time, Tableau is irrelevant if regular business people can't figure out how to get the data into the product. In fact, it is a very frustrating experience.
Tableau states that cleaning, integrating and reshaping your data should be available as visual operations. You shouldn't need to learn SQL to manage it.
A new data connection interface was demoed. Earlier this year, I contributed to the vision and feature debates for this area as part of a talented team of people at Tableau. This team included Jun K, Dan C, Jock M, Chris S, Richard and several other great people. Here's an example flow:
1) You have some data about bike rentals. It's in Excel or a text file and looks like this. A bit rough-column names in all caps, start_time is a text field and some other important data isn't in this file.