Podcast: The Tableau Journey with MK Quigley

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“My job isn’t to change things to Times New Roman a thousand times” – MK Quigley Listen in brower: MK is a former coworker of mine, though before that she was a customer, and now she is a customer again. She is frighteningly smart and has the unique combination of creative thinking skills and logical reasoning that makes for a spectacular Tableau analyst. And despite that, she doesn’t refer to herself as an analyst. This episode was scheduled for an hour but we just kept talking. Things we discussed: Realizing, upon starting in an analyst role, that things you previously thought should be simple are actually incredibly complicated. The credibility that comes with admitting you don’t know something. Is “analyst” a job or a function? Features that we wish Tableau would build. Features that we hope Tableau doesn’t build – *ahem* – Dynamic Parameters, we’re coming for you. I’m so glad to have had a non-employee on. Hopefully we’ll have some more brave customers step up and brave the Thunderdome that is my kitchen table / podcast studio. Thanks for listening. Podcast notes: You can listen to Tableau on Tableau using any podcast app. Just search for Tableau on Tableau. Or, if you’re […]

Podcast: Gartner and Tableau 10.2

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“I really believe that we need to make access to data so easy that it becomes an intrinsic part of conversation – I struggle to think about any organization that hasn’t quite gotten there.” – Wilson Listen in browser:   It’s been a while. Wilson and I have mixed feelings about the annual Gartner reports for B.I. and other enterprise technologies. On one hand, they serve as reliable independent documents that reflect a consultative view of various technical markets. They tend to be progressive enough to point out exciting new technologies and present a fair opinion of all of the companies they evaluate. On the other hand, they are primarily based on customer interviews – which aren’t always particularly progressive. It’s also difficult to tell how much they weigh things unrelated to technology, like company financial health or brand recognition. Their measurements, “ability to execute” and “completeness of vision,” are cryptic and warrant more explanation. This episode starts with a discussion of how we see the space. There’s a lot of focus on visualization, which is great, but it fails to focus on the differences between each technology. I wrote a bit more about this in a recent blog. I read […]

Podcast: Tableau Insider with Dustin Smith

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Dustin introduced me to Tableau. I was 24, and I was working at a small tech startup in Seattle. I had just gotten a promotion to the title of “Junior Business Analyst.” I’m still not sure what that means. Dustin and I were tasked with manipulating data, all day, and delivering it to people in the business and sometimes to our customers. One day Dustin turned to me and said, “You know, why don’t you try messing around with this Tableau thing?” I downloaded a free trial and opened up Tableau version 4.1. I went to the website and listened to the training video, recorded by Marc Rueter. At one point I swiveled around in my chair and said to Dustin, “This is pretty fucking cool.” A year later we were both working at Tableau. There are a lot of funny stories that emerge at people’s jobs. Our stories happen to be about data. We are curious about everything, and if there’s data on it, we want to analyze it. These may just sound like funny stories, but they are pivotal to how we developed as employees, as professionals, and as people. They shaped our careers, and the growth of Tableau […]

Podcast: Viz Wiz Finals, and Cotgreave’s Law

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Wilson and I have learned a lot this year from operating the Viz Wiz tournament (“Wiz” now officially branded by CMO Elissa Fink as sans-h), which isn’t the first visualization tournament we’ve run at Tableau, but it’s by far the biggest. Next week we’ll crown a champion. For now, listen to our shock-jock analysis of the bracket, the judges, and the competitors left in this year’s tournament. The topic of visual artistry and the decisions made when designing a data viz is muddled with trying to balance the visual best practices, decreed by Edward Tufte and evangelized by new business-focused data scientists like Stephen Few, with design principles long associated with graphics in journalism and other visual mediums. When Andy Cotgreave was on the program a few months ago, he mentioned “Cotgreave’s Law,” which teases that more innovative data visualizations inevitably create more criticism. A recent article Andy published on the topic can be found here. To illustrate this topic, and two of my favorite visual practices – the highlight table and the linear story layout, enjoy an entry from one of the Viz Wiz tournament finalists, Team “Extreme Viz-Over” – the partnership of Rafi Zelikowsky and Luca Bandini. Here’s […]

Podcast: What is Self Service?

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The cocktail scene has gotten out of control. I can go to a bar in Manhattan and spend $20 on a drink. I guess I’m paying for the ambience or service or decor at a fancy bar or maybe I’m paying for the fact that it’s “crafted” for me by a guy wearing suspenders because remember when people wore suspenders? Me either. Anyway this episode is about Self Service Analytics. If you want to subscribe to the podcast, you can do so on iTunes or on Stitcher.

Podcast: Dashboards and B.I.

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I play on a soccer team here in New York. One night after a game I went out for a beer with a few of my teammates and one of them asked what I did for a living. Some people know what presales engineers do and some don’t, so usually when someone asks me that question I say “I work for a company called Tableau. We make data analysis software.” I don’t like to say “visualization software” because I think we do a lot more than just data visualization. And I don’t like to say Business Intelligence because I don’t really like the term. But most people know what data is and have some understanding of Excel or general data analysis concepts. This guy, however, responded with, “what, like Dashboards?” That’s a tricky question, even though he didn’t intend it to be one. Because if a customer asked me that question, or someone who was interested in Tableau’s place in the competitive market, I would say “no you idiot! Not just dashboards! Analysis! Storytelling! Actually getting insights from your data! Not those stupid gauge-based reports you think help you monitor your business!” but really this guy was just trying to […]

Podcast: On Calculations

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This week Wilson and I discussed Calculations. It’s a big topic that we get asked about constantly by newer users trying to really be effective with Tableau. Wait a minute, you might say, isn’t Tableau supposed to make things easy? Why do I have to know advanced math to do analysis? I thought this was for business users! Good point, disembodied typist. One of the reasons Calcs are so prominent in the mindspace surrounding Tableau is because of misconceptions. Another reason is that calcs are used more for things like formatting and categorization than they are for hard math. Or as my colleagues in London would say, maths. We also discussed a framework for learning calculations better that focuses on the key concepts you need to understand when working with calcs in Tableau. I will probably write that up soon. For now, listen and enjoy the episode. -CS

Tales From the Field

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Wilson and I spend a lot of time off the air talking about what we’re working on. That was actually the inspiration for this podcast – the long rambling conversations we would often have (usually over drinks) about how things work at Tableau, and how things should be done. Wilson plans to follow up with a post about the work he’s doing in tracking his sales pipeline. This is crucial stuff for anyone who is analyzing Salesforce data. I hope he does it guys. I really do. Also, Wilson is mega lazy. He might not. I want to write a little more about optimizing Data performance in Tableau. That should be dropping shortly after this post. Thanks for listening. CS

Viz Whiz Tournament Update

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  Tableau runs an annual all-company data visualization tournament, called Viz Whiz. Wilson and I did a shock-jock style tournament preview of the Sales and Customer Solutions organizations this past December. This episode is a followup discussion of what we’ve seen so far. We wanted to feature some of the great vizzes people created for the tournament. Here are a few of the vizzes we mentioned on the podcast: Cameron Ford: Cameron’s view is a very fun approach to Tableau Story Points. Story Points are a unique feature of Tableau that no one seems to be really sure about the best way to utilize. Cameron’s the Story of Liam is a great example of how data visualization can be used to tell a story. You are both walked through the important analysis he did to prove his argument, and are also encouraged to explore and interact the view for yourself. Is it conclusive? No. There are some severe causation/correlation problems with the argument. But it’s an argument I’ll bet you’ve never heard made before that at the same time makes perfect sense when you hear it. Joe Clarke: In the podcast Wilson and I alluded to the concept of presentation […]