Why you should buy Tableau


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I love Tableau, and I wish I had discovered it earlier. When I think of all the time I have wasted over the years trying to make visual sense of data…

As of today, with all due respect to QlikView and Spotfire, I would not know how else to:

  • Find insights and patterns in structured data that would otherwise reach us in a mostly flat and uninspiring manner
  • Use multiple perspectives of the same data to make a strong point or tell a story
  • Quickly apply filters across various metrics sharing the same data schema (or stemming from the same database)
  • Allow others to access my own interactive analysis environment.

In summary, if you need an “analytical dashboard” or visual discovery platform, an extension of your existing BI infrastructure that provides a superb interface to navigate through structured data (CRM, ERP….), you need Tableau.

I am of course dying to see the platform evolve further in terms of online data sources, connecting to Google Analytics, BigQuery or even Salesforce in a more reliable way. But it will eventually get there.

Beyond Tableau: Meet Information Delivery

Of course, once visual discovery has been served, an additional need arises to deliver the fruits of Tableau’s impressive slicing and dicing capabilities, as well as provide a context for them that goes beyond structured data.

Information Delivery is precisely about meeting this need. And, as it happens in many orders, this is something that requires an ad-hoc, best-of-breed approach well differentiated from visual discovery. In particular, the following are essential to its success:

  • Data consumers have very little time for data. Metrics and charts must be extremely concise/personalized, explained in plain English and available through native mobile environments.
  • Executive dashboards will be more successful the closer they are to a scorecard. In other words: the more they can focus on performance, trends, goals, benchmarks and forecasts. Visualizations take the back seat in favor of clear KPIs, though great looks and some context (in the form of dimensional breakdowns) are also essential.
  • Data governance and actionability must be embedded in such executive dashboards from day one. In the manner in which dashboards are distributed (apps, scheduled PDF/PPT, mounted TV screens, smartwatches, computers…) and in the manner in which each metric allows for “social” interaction with peers on both sides of the value chain: other data consumers and analysts.

Tableau and Sweetspot: A killer tandem

Most Sweetspot clients have understood this essential dichotomy (which leaves behind prior layers/stages such as Data Integration), and this is precisely the secret of their success at both levels:

  • Tableau Software covers their visual discovery needs, keeping analysts and data die-hards happy.
  • Sweetspot Intelligence satisfies their information delivery needs, keeping data consumers focused on performance and simultaneously democratizing status updates and data insights.

Where Tableau brings rich discovery for structured data, Sweetspot brings unlimited connections to semi-structured and unstructured data (the case for much of our digital data sources) into a business friendly delivery-only layer.

Where Tableau gives you a never-ending playing field to present the many faces of data, Sweetspot distributes a single version of the “truth” across the entire enterprise, joined by analyst insights and comments, workflow scenarios, forecasts and a timeline of events affecting one or multiple metrics.

And also to bear in mind:

Sweetspot is as poor a choice for mere data visualization as Tableau is for digital performance dashboards or executive distribution. Trying to cover both needs with one single tool is the perfect formula for failure – and a severe waste of time and resources.

In honor of QlikView and Spotfire

Of course there are strong alternatives to Tableau and it would not be fair to leave them without proper mention.

I am certain that QlikView and Spotfire are extremely powerful tools, and I have also had the opportunity to see some of our best (Sweetspot) clients working with them in impressive ways. I just happened to put more emphasis on visualization resources and ended up sticking with Tableau for now.

Your thoughts?

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Sergio Maldonado

Founder & Chairman at Sweetspot. Author, speaker on analytics, marketing technology, privacy compliance. JD, LLM (Internet law). Once a dually-admitted lawyer. Father of three. I love surfing and cooking.

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