Making Tableau an essential part of your BI stack

Ronak Shah

Ronak Shah

The BI landscape is evolving. Over the last 10 years, analysts and line-of-business users have gained access to an overwhelming amount of information and new tools.

It’s no secret that technology’s changing every day, and with it, a new set of expectations for how we do our jobs. So how do we leverage the BI tools we know and continue to provide meaningful insights while keeping pace with the latest technologies? For starters, we need to understand the limitations of traditional reporting, and next, figure out how to best structure and empower our IT teams and analysts with new tools—like Tableau.

Limitations of traditional reporting

Reporting tools are an essential part of your BI strategy. They provide essential information in a reliable, regular, and repeatable fashion. But traditional reporting tools aren’t without their constraints. First and foremost, there are limitations to the number of questions a user can answer: reports often answer the most basic questions, and any follow-up is usually managed by end users in tools on their desktop that are error-prone and difficult to manage.

Even Excel, probably the most popular BI tool, has its own share of issues. Because every user is pulling data into a spreadsheet on his/her own, the values of the data are often different from person to person, and as a result, individuals may come up with different results and thus different conclusions.

In a nutshell, different versions of files get circulated; there’s not an efficient way to update data; and analysts wind up expending their energy managing files rather than actually interpreting information.

Shift IT’s focus to data management

We recommend empowering your IT team to focus on data management. By focusing on data quality, IT can provide your company’s analysts with clean, concise, and organized data in a well-managed and high performance environment. And that means more time for your analysts to focus on translating that data into meaningful insights.

By adding Tableau to your BI stack, analysts can move beyond managing Excel files and quickly visualize, analyze, and share their work. If you’ve already invested in a great data infrastructure, you’re already primed for visual analytics: a great warehouse, database, and even a big data appliance will make analyzing your data with Tableau much easier.  Tableau has a wide variety of native database connections that make it very easy for your users to quickly and effectively get moving.

Optimize your predictive modeling efforts

If you have a mature analytics program, you probably have a team of brilliant data scientists who can derive amazing insights and information from your data.

However, most programs spend 80-90% of their time on the upfront tasks of data analysis, data cleansing, and data enrichment. With a team of very expensive resources, is this the best use of their time? By giving your data scientists better tools, and by giving analysts the tools to better support modeling efforts, imagine the gains in efficiency you can achieve. What if your modeling team is able to spend 50% more of their time building models and less of their time writing code (and trying to work with the limited reporting capabilities in their modeling software)? The models you build will be more targeted, better performing, and generate higher ROI for your business.

With Tableau’s latest release, version 8.1, the efficiencies gained are even greater—Tableau has integrated R directly into the client, making model development and enhancement even faster and easier.

Get started

Whether you are just initiating your BI program, or you’ve reached full maturity, Tableau will quickly becomes a valuable tool in your analytics arsenal. With Tableau, you’ll empower your analysts and streamline your IT and advanced analytics programs. You can get started today with a trial or check out some great demos on Tableau Public.

If you have any questions about incorporating Tableau into your reporting portfolio, feel free to contact our Tableau experts at Slalom.

About Ronak Shah
I am a leader in the Information Management & Analytics Practice at Slalom in New York. I have over 8 years of experience with Tableau, Qlikview, and Spotfire, and am passionate about data visualization, analytics, and user experience. Follow me on twitter: @datapopulist

2 Responses to Making Tableau an essential part of your BI stack

  1. Pingback: Planning and architecting Tableau Server | The Slalom Blog

  2. Pingback: How to improve the performance of your Tableau dashboards | The Slalom Blog

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