Focusing on the real business issues at Citibank

Citibank works on many large, complex projects, such as the Digital Money Readiness Index. In this video, senior project manager Duncan Slater discusses how Tableau helps the financial institution create actionable insights using data.

Tableau: How long have you been using Tableau?
Duncan Slater, Senior Project Manager: I personally have been using Tableau in a number of different roles for around two years. And, typically, we've been using it in a data discovery mode. So we've been learning things about our data, learning things about our business, and creating actionable insights off the back of that data.

Tableau: What is working with Tableau like?
Duncan: So in terms of our general experience with Tableau is – it's a really positive experience.

Right from something as simple as installing the product right through to publishing on Tableau Public or publishing on Tableau Server—all of these tasks have really been stripped down to make them as user centric as possible, and something which allows us to focus on the real business issues and not become deep technologists.

So what I enjoy most about working with Tableau is really the ease of creating new visualizations. The fact that you spend most of the time not on the data itself, but, rather, on what is the data telling me about the business problem that I'm looking to solve?

Tableau: Can you give an example of when Tableau was helpful?
Duncan: A lot of the things we're looking at are internal, confidential data that we can't share externally. So it's creating value for the organization. Obviously, that's happening behind the scenes, but at the same time, we can really focus on the business issues and allow the software to get out of the way and allow us to quickly develop the insights which we're looking for. So that's been my overall experience of Tableau and the reason why we continue to use it.

From something as simple as installing the product right through to publishing on Tableau Public or publishing on Tableau Server—all of these tasks have really been stripped down to make them as user-centric as possible… we can really focus on the business issues and allow the software to get out of the way.

Tableau: Can you tell us about the Digital Money Readiness Index?
Duncan: So really one of the key things that we need to do in this project is deliver – very quickly deliver something which was enterprise class, something which was a great visualization, something that could be rolled out onto our website, but with a very short time frame and a very low budget.

So in our more traditional ways of doing things, the biggest – one of the biggest stumbling blocks would have been in terms of providing the infrastructure, the external facing infrastructure, so making sure that we stood up the external-facing servers to deliver that and hosting it internally. So the cost of, obviously, doing that is something which can be quite prohibitive.

So we needed a tool that could deliver fast, something that could deliver something which was really good, pleasing on the eye, something which was really – created an interest in the digital money index. Tableau Public Premium was the right solution for this particular project. With Tableau Public Premium we were able to protect the data and make sure that it's not downloaded.

Tableau: What kinds of sources were involved in this project? And how was Tableau helpful in this regard?
Duncan: For the digital money readiness index, we collected data from a number of open data sources, from the United Nations, from the World Bank, and various sources like that in this particular instance, the data is something we want to share and make available to – to other folks who create new insights off the back of this data.

With Tableau, we were able to do it on the fly. So we were able to create a huge number of visualizations, show it to the key stakeholders and say,"Which ones of these are going to have resonance with the folk who are looking at the – at the index?" And very quickly whittle it down. So it avoids a lot of that traditional systems development life cycle. So that was a really key thing for us in terms of getting something quickly into the market.

Tableau: How do people respond to the results?
Duncan: When folks see the results of the project is they really feel like the index has come to life for them. The data is not just a set of narrow definitions on a particular report, but it actually brings it to life. And you can see the interaction of the different factors that make up digital money readiness. They're very excited about what that tells them and how they can get deeper insights and deeper views of what the data is telling them.

Tableau: Has the Tableau community been welcoming?
Duncan: Yeah, so being part of the Tableau community has been really fantastic. So that's something I found when I was really new to the world of Tableau. If I had something that wasn't immediately obvious in terms of how I wanted to create something or look at something in a different way, it was very quick to engage with the community, post something on the forum. And there are some really fantastically knowledgeable folk there who, by and large, have solved most of the issues that new people come across.

Tableau: Has Tableau support been helpful?
Duncan: So we had a few occasions during the creation of the Digital Money Index where we really felt we'd benefit from some external expertise.And at that stage, we called on some of the professional services folk at Tableau and said, "Please, can you help us? We've got to as far as we can on our own, we need some different perspectives and some different ideas." And what really impressed me about their abilities was the passion, the interest, and their knowledge on the product and the knowledge on how to see things from my perspective and to move things forward.

So we used the professional services consultants at two particular stages in the product – project, one at the early stage to help us move past some basic visualizations to something which was more dashboard ready, and also later on to solve some specific issues which we had. And on both of those occasions, we got really good input from the professional services team and was really a pleasure to work with them.

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