Tableau: How important is data to your job?
Allison: We see the need and the desire for more data every single day. It's almost more than we can handle. You know, we have to go out and get more resources and I think this is industry wide, but it's becoming kind of the key to digital media and advertising and marketing. Everyone is really pushing towards more and more data-driven decision making.
Tableau: Has collaboration increased?
Allison: The collaboration we're seeing is really just learning from each other and seeing one piece of content performing well in one team and why doesn't another team try it out kind of thing.
And especially across the teams, it really enables them to learn from each other. You know, if one team produces a very engaging piece of content, we can pick that up pretty quickly using our Tableau dashboard and our data platforms and see, okay, this piece of content performed great, so why don't we implement this across the league?
Tableau: Can you give an example?
Allison: Okay, so one example was that one of the teams implemented a 53-man roster photo gallery at the beginning of the season. And this was something new that the clubs had not previously done.
And we saw that really quickly in Tableau visually on a scatter plot, that that piece of content was standing out. This was something that would have been almost impossible to pick out before we had Tableau.
So that was cool just to be able to even see that piece of content stand out right away without any data mining, without any work. Because we picked that out so quickly, we were able to tell the other clubs, hey, this piece of content really performed well. And they were able to go ahead and implement that before the start of the season.
So it was very timely. They didn't have to wait a month to figure out what the best content was. They had it almost right away and were able to create great content for their team as well as the first team who did it.
Tableau: And what’s the impact of that data visualization?
Allison: The impact of being able to pull those pieces of data out so quickly is really the timeliness. The NFL moves very quickly. We have 17 weeks of the season. And if you miss something, you know, it maybe doesn't make sense to put it out there a few weeks later.
So I think the timeliness is a big impact, but also just keeping our fans informed with the kind of things that they want to see. So we know that our fans really like to be up to date on who's on the team, who's playing this week, what are the injury updates? Are there new coaching changes? We know that our fans want to be able to look at their friend and talk about these things. So being able to see that reflected in the data analysis of the content is also very important for us.
Tableau: Where does your data live?
Allison: Right now, we're just using Adobe Analytics, their API into Excel. But it's not really a best practice. So we definitely want to get that into a database. But we are building out a SQL Server database to host this data and we have a couple different plans. But we hope to primarily power this through SQL Server.
Tableau: Has using Tableau enhanced your creativity?
Allison: Yeah. Definitely. Designing the dashboard was probably one of the most creative things that I've done while I've been working there.
So just making it look visually friendly, like something that they've seen before online or in graphic design was an experience. And it was definitely a creative experience. So, yeah, I think that was a little fun, creative activity that I did.
Tableau: Have you taken advantage of the Tableau community?
Allison: I'm a huge advocate of the forums on Tableau.com. I think there are some amazingly smart people in there. And the community is so awesome, everyone responds really quickly. So if I ever have a question, I always go into the forum and post it and I usually get an answer within a couple hours.
Tableau: Where is data at the NFL headed overall?
Allison: I think the company as a whole is really moving towards being data driven. We're primarily creating content for our social media sites, for our websites, for our apps, for our connected TV. It's a lot of video, as you can imagine, for the NFL.
Tableau: What was life like before Tableau?
Allison: Data analytics for our team was a lot more manual to put together. So pulling all of our data into one source was a huge undertaking. We actually had just one resource who would spend a day at least pulling together this data. So it was a lot more manual work, a lot more iterative. You know, just repeating club after club rather than having it all in one place like we do now with Tableau.