Cutting web analysis from weeks to hours with Tableau

The Information Lab offers Tableau training and consulting to businesses in the U.K. and Europe. Martijn Verstrepen, Consultant and System Integrator, speaks about his Tableau journey. Before Tableau, Martijn analyzed web data in Excel and raw databases. The process could take weeks to create a monthly report. With Tableau, Martijn can create the same report within hours and answer complex questions with just a few clicks.

Before The Information Lab, Martijn worked in the field of web analytics. He recalls extracting data from Google Analytics and other sources, analyzing the data in Excel or directly in the databases using SQL. Monthly web analytics reports could take up to a week, especially if the customer was multinational.

With Tableau, he can connect to these web data sources (and others) with the web data connector. The monthly reporting process that once took a week, takes one or two hours in Tableau. He can complete trend analyses in just a few clicks and digging deeper into the data is equally simple.

Tableau: Why do you enjoy using Tableau?
Martijn Verstrepen, Consultant and System Integrator: So why use Tableau? I think that it makes it much easier to gain insight from your data and then take actions based on those insights. For me, that would be the main reason to use Tableau.

And now I also have a lot more time to concentrate on letting the visualizations speak more. For me, that is really the biggest plus point.

Tableau: What tools did you use before Tableau?
Martijn: Before I used Tableau, I actually used a whole range of tools. Because I came from the field of web analysis, I mostly used web analysis software. I worked a lot with Google Analytics, Piwik (which is an open-source web analysis tool), Adobe Omniture. But that’s specifically on the web analysis side. As the data emerged from these, I usually went straight to a tool like Excel or even just raw databases, which you can try MySQL via SQL to resolve the analyses.

Say you have 50 sites and the customer is a multinational. All of the web statistics had to be imported from 50 different websites once a month to allow the monthly reports to be issued. That easily took an entire week.

Tableau: And how has your experienced changed now that you use Tableau?
Martijn: With Tableau, you can do that with web data connector, for example, or in the case of Google with the integral connector. It’s a one-off task to set up the connector and after that, the process can be run again every month. It’s one press of a button, and it fixes itself. So, from a week’s work every month to around one to two hours’ work a month to generate the same report.

Tableau: What would you say to someone who was considering Tableau for their company?
Martijn: The reason I would advise someone to start working with Tableau is not only the convenience in the time that you save doing all of those boring tasks that you have to report every month, but on the other hand, simply the enormous quantity of extra insight you can obtain from that data.

For example, trend analyses that normally you would have great difficulty generating in Excel, can now be done in 3 clicks. You have the picture and if it appears that there is a peak or trough somewhere that you want to investigate further, with five clicks you are much further on, and you immediately have the answer to the question of what precisely is going on.

Tableau: How would you describe your journey with Tableau?
Martijn: I am now noticing that with Tableau, I can continue to learn in it. Every day there is something new that I think, 'oh that’s not possible,' but it is if we do this, that, or the other. You actually continue to, let’s say, trigger yourself constantly but with new, cool things that ultimately appear to be excellent in Tableau.

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