It’s hard to find a more engaged and passionate group of people than the Tableau community at Slalom.
You know, one of the things I was really excited about when I joined Slalom two and a half years ago was that the people I was following in the Tableau community, and so inspired by, were here at Slalom already. In my mind, they were like celebrities—and now I get to work with them. Being able to learn from the community within Slalom has added a lot to my career progression.
What new features are you most excited to see in Tableau 10?
There are lots of great features in Tableau 10. Here are three that I’m particularly excited about:
- Cross-data base joins—Historically, people had to do a lot of data work to bring their sources together ahead of time before using Tableau. Take sales and marketing, for example: Marketing may have campaigns in one source and sales may have data in another CRM tool. Typically we would need some intermediary to join that data before using Tableau. But now with Tableau 10, you can connect to both of the sources. For the large portion of the analyst community who may require IT’s help to provide this data, the cross-data base join lets them be more nimble in their iterative analyses.
- Custom territories—Tableau 10 allows you to easily define regions of a map using a zip code or geocoded data and group into custom regions. For example, school districts that want a custom set of data based on their district boundaries will now be able to easily get that.
- Formatting—The new auto formatting capabilities of Tableau 10 allow you to define formatting preferences (fonts, color palettes, etc.) at a global level, which then feed down through all of your worksheets. This further reduces the time taken to produce executive-ready visualizations.
Can you give me an example of a recent project where we’ve helped a client transform their business with Tableau?
A recent healthcare project at one of the leading cancer centers in the United States comes to mind. Our work included everything from building out dashboards to really evangelizing Tableau across the company and giving them the tools, training, and all the information that they needed to gain broad adoption.
It was really centered around improving the patient care experience, and how quickly they can get a patient in the door. We were thinking through real-world scenarios. For example, let’s say your doctor tells you that you have a tumor that you should get checked out at a cancer center. If you call and learn it takes 21 days to get in for an appointment, that’s pretty distressing. So we were really seeking to understand the current state of patient care—how patients get in the door, how appointments are scheduled, etc.
Some of it was just uplifting the client’s knowledge, looking at cancer trends across the United States. We did a lot of demographics work to help them better understand the patients: where they’re coming from, how far they’re traveling, and if there are trends that are changing in those demographics.
What do you think we’ll see from Tableau down the road?
The product will just continue to get better. It’s a more competitive space, and I think that’s a positive thing: we need products that continue to evolve. And that serves our clients better.
The community and market will continue to direct Tableau toward where to focus. I think we’ll continue to see more mobile usage. Right now, you can’t get the same level of information on your phone or tablet—so I think we’ll see some improvements in mobile analytics. And we should also continue to see improvements in data integration.
Tableau really serves as a core part of a BI strategy. And one of the things I think Tableau does really well—and I hope that it continues to—is direct the user toward best practices for analysis and how to roll Tableau out across the enterprise.