Making Data Driven Decisions with Tableau Software

In our previous blog post, we introduced Tableau’s product ecosystem and the different license types catering to the different roles in an organisation. In this post, we explain which licenses have access to which Tableau products and how this fits into the analytics workflow of an organisation.

Tableau Products & Licenses

Tableau Prep Builder

For Creator licenses only

Tableau Desktop

For Creator licenses only

Tableau Server

For Creator, Explorer and Viewer licenses

This article will discuss how the different users can utilise Tableau to easily connect to their data from different sources, perform analysis rapidly and share the insights with others within the organisation. It will then explore how the end users of the dashboards and visualisations can utilise it, empowering the entire organisation to make data-driven decisions.

Before we begin, we first need to understand the Analytics Workflow. According to Tableau’s Modern Analytics Workflow, the workflow consists of five key actions:

  1. Access & View
  2. Interact
  3. Analyse & Discover
  4. Share
  5. Promote & Govern.
Modern Analytics Workflow

Tableau Desktop Interface

Tableau Desktop is the main platform that Creators of the organisation will use to develop insightful and interactive visualisations for the end users. As for Explorers, with updates in recent years, Explorers are now able to create and publish dashboards using the web interface on the browser – albeit with some limitations.

Billigence Tableau Dashboard

For Creators using Tableau Desktop, they can utilise any of its ever-growing variety of native connectors in its Connect Pane. Currently, Tableau has 84 different data connectors available. If a connector for a certain type of data is not available, connectors can be built and shared by users. There is a gallery of connectors built and published by other Tableau users in the community.

After connecting to the right data sources, Creators and Explorers can start developing their dashboards. In Tableau, each visualisation is created on a single worksheet, and the worksheets are then put together on a single dashboard as the final product. Tableau Desktop is a user-friendly platform, and it simplifies and speeds up the process of creating a visualisation. The fields in the data are shown on the Data Pane on the left, and they just need to be dragged onto the canvas in the middle to create their visualisations.

Alternatively, Tableau offers a “Show Me” feature where Creators and Explorers can select their desired fields and there will be a list of visualizations available to choose for based on the fields selected.

Tableau Show Me Feature

After creating the individual visualisations, individual worksheets can be placed on the dashboard the same way fields are dragged onto a canvas. Creators also have the option to add interactivity where required, for the Viewers or end users to have flexibility in their analysis. These can come in the form of dropdown selections, user text input or date range selections.

Publishing Content on Tableau Server

When the visualisations are complete, they can publish their work onto Tableau Server (or Tableau Online). Tableau Server works as a repository for all the Tableau workbooks and data sources that are shared across the organisation. These files are organised in project folders and they can be configured to only allow access to relevant parties or departments, ensuring data governance across the organisation.

The analytics workflow does not end here. Authorised viewers can now access the dashboards on Tableau Server and interact with them to find insights within the data on their own. With the data and visualisation shared across the organisation, everyone can see and understand the data and make better informed decisions.

On Tableau Server’s web interface, there are various many features that can enhance the analytics experience but we will focus on some key features in this post.

While viewing a dashboard, there is an option to comment on the dashboard. This functions as a discussion forum, where viewers can tag others to highlight specific issues to them. While inputting a comment, they can also attach an already filtered view so other users can directly go to the specified view without the process of filtering or changing the parameters. Allowing for discussions to happen can allow organisations to dig deeper into their data and uncover more insights that may benefit the organisation further.

Tableau Comments Feature

For Explorers that want to explore further on their own, they have 2 options – Web Edit and Download. Users can alter the current dashboards or create their own versions of analysis while on Tableau server’s web interface, which looks similar to Tableau Desktop. Although the web editing functionality is not as flexible as Tableau Desktop, it allows users the option to do ad hoc analysis on top of the content that has been published, and save it for other users to access as well. In each of the recent updates, more functionalities for web editing are released.

Tableau Server allows downloading of the views or dashboards in multiple formats – Image, Data, Crosstab, PDF, PowerPoint, Tableau Workbook. This allows for the published dashboard to be used for presentations and sharing, or extracting the data for further transformation and analysis.

Access Tableau From Any Device

Apart from accessing Tableau Server on the browser, it is accessible via mobile as well. Available on both the Apple and Android, people can now access their Tableau Server content on the go. Dashboards can be developed with a mobile or tablet layout for viewing on those devices as well. The Device Preview feature allows developers to have a look and feel of how the dashboard will look like on different screen sizes.

Tableau Mobile View

Tableau’s suite of products empowers an organisation’s analytics workflow by offering features that focus on the speed to insight, and how content can be shared and governed easily. The product continues to innovate, allowing more possibilities in how people can see and understand data. Apart from Tableau Desktop and Server that has been discussed in this post, Tableau also offers another product – Tableau Prep. It is a powerful data preparation tool that we will cover in a future blog post.