A Tableau Evolution

By Alex Morrison 31 Ago, 2010

Of all the visualizations on display during the conference, Michael Ticsay of Experian Automotive produced the most unexpected at his Wednesday afternoon session.

“This was produced using Tableau,” Michael said, holding up a thick binder full of black and white spreadsheet reports. “Our users still want this.”

Michael focused his talk on how to lead customers, clients and other third party users to embrace data visualizations and more sophisticated analysis.

While in some ways it seems like a no brainer, Michael explained that change can be hard and slow. Especially in his case, where many of his customers are in the field at auto dealerships and repair shops, are not sophisticated data workers and do not even have access to online reporting. They also know the spreadsheets (sometimes to an almost scary level of detail) and are generally happy with them.

So Michael found that it was essential that he continue to meet his users’ needs today (with binders full of spreadsheets) while also guiding them to the future.

He began the process slowly, by adding simple visualizations to the binders without replacing the spreadsheets themselves. Once these visualizations got some traction, Michael began introducing users to interactive reports, emphasizing how they are more timely, accessible and therefore valuable.

Michael said that it was extremely important for him to keep his purpose in mind while working with his customers. “We are replacing existing systems – we are not providing these people with new information,” he said.

Before he adds features and capabilities to his reports he asks, “Is my user going to adapt to that?”

So, even as Tableau introduces version 6.0 and power users hail it as a revolution, Michael reminds us that Tableau sometimes also has to be an evolution.


Submitted by Marc P. on

Brings back memories of 1987. Same issue, "need our existing reports". Six months after the evolution started the user community literally chewed out the project team for continuing to generate "those old, outdated reports". That was sweet music to the team's ears.

Sounds like the measure of success might just be the same at Experian Automotive, 20+ years later.

Good luck Michael!

Submitted by data rockstar (no verificado) on

Agree 100%. I am in a very similar business with the same type of clients. Most important is what value do you bring. If the customer knows and is comfortable with their current reports, then what do you offer that will give them additional insight and clarity to their decision-making? Also, we have to remember that everyone must communicate using a common language. Visualization is very new and it will take some time for people to understand its value and how it can be used.

Submitted by sympathizer (no verificado) on

I feel your pain! But my experience is a microcosm of this extreme case.

Stick with it. I'm sure that after a couple of a-ha moments they'll never look back.

Good luck!

Submitted by Steven K. on

Thanks Tableau for putting this post up! Agree with Data rockstar - people will only use your analysis if they feel comfortable with it!

When we first started using Tableau, the visuals were new to the users. We had to present the visual with the supporting table of data to get the users to read our analysis. We have found over time people are slowly starting to refer to the visual as their first point of reference.

Another point, we would like to share, is how we have learned to better understand our users and the problem they are trying to solve. Each person and situation is different! Cartain people and situations call for detailed data (which only a table of data can provide).Other times people will need the high level visual.

It all comes down to an art of how best to serve your customers!

Who said Analysts aren't sexy?

Submitted by Aedion on

I recently revised a dashboard and asked my manager what was missing, he couldn't tell. So it wasn't important and now there's more room for better content. :-D