Box cuts analysis time from days to hours with Tableau and Amazon Redshift

Box helps companies store and share consumer data. In this video, Senior Analyst Abhishek Gupta discusses how Tableau has helped them better understand their customers, share dashboards across the organization, and quickly connect to data stored in Amazon Redshift.

Box helps companies share and store files in the cloud—while keeping those files secure. Over 37 million people and 47,000 organizations use Box to store content.

Before Tableau, Senior Analyst at Box, Abhishek Gupta, was building dashboards in another BI system. Just starting an analytics project would cost him days of work.

With that extra time Abhishek can dig deeper into the data, which he says is “critical if you're in analytics.”

With Tableau and Amazon Redshift, Box has been able to:

  • Understand how customers use their product
  • Create a “central place” for employees to access data
  • Explore the data and make better decisions—faster

"Information is truth"

Tableau: What do people at Box need most when it comes to data?
Abhishek Gupta, Senior Analyst: People should have access to the numbers and they should be able to understand how people interact on your product and where if certain investments are paying off or if they're not paying off. So, information is truth, and our dashboards are open to everyone in the company.

It's open to everyone in the company, and we can monitor when executives come in to use, look at dashboards. I've seen them open it in meetings. We have meetings with some regular cadence on where we look at some numbers and I've seen some executives do the whole meeting off of Tableau dashboards.

Tableau: What does this openness achieve?
Abhishek: What it does is it also reduces a lot of work people have to put into meetings, right? You're just going over a dashboard, the dashboard is always alive. So that's definitely helped us a lot.

We're always trying to understand how people use our product, because that will help—once we understand how people use our product, we can learn how to make the product better and engage them more on the product. So that's always like the number one thing, like what features do they use, how do they use it, are they not using it, and then going deeper and deeper into the data to understand why they're not using it.

Tableau: How long have you been using Tableau?
Abhishek: We've been using Tableau—we started using the Desktop licenses over a year and a half ago, and then we migrated to Server as well maybe three to five months ago. And it's been really great. We have about 1,100 employees or so, daily active users.

Tableau: Tell us more about Box.
Abhishek: Box is a multiplatform. You can use Box from your web browser or desktop clients or mobile products. So a lot of our dashboards look at all these various activities, and how and where they access your data from.

Tableau: What kinds of dashboards are you coming up with?
Abhishek: So one of the more interesting dashboards we've been making lately is where our growth is coming from—internationally versus domestically—and then how they're accessing it.

Tableau: And what are some of the insights the dashboards allowed?
Abhishek: So one of the more interesting insights we found was countries like Saudi Arabia or countries like India actually have a huge Box presence, especially on mobile products like Android, Blackberry, Windows.

It is good to know, and it tells you like you have a Middle East presence and maybe an office in other countries can start focusing on it, start using those users as a potential up-sell opportunities.

But that's been one of the more interesting insights is that we have a lot more data coming in, we have international data, we have multiplatform data, and when you combine those two you can see the things you read about in the world like mobile growth is expanding all over the world. You actually see it in your own data and how people use your product.

Tableau: What’s your overall impression of Tableau?
Abhishek: Tableau is a great way for other people to consume content, consume data, and the more and more different teams you work with, the more and more different groups you're going to work with, you know, Tableau is going to be a great central place for them to go and access this information. And that's going to be really critical because the more questions people will ask, the more dashboards need to be made or more analysis needs to be done. And so that will be huge.

Tableau can connect to Redshift really fast. Redshift has very, very fast query processing time, because it's columnar-based. And then Tableau does the visualization stuff awesome. So you can literally connect everything within hours.

A productive partnership—Tableau and Amazon Redshift

Tableau: How do Tableau and Redshift work together?
Abhishek: Tableau can connect to Redshift really fast. Redshift has very, very fast query processing time, because it's columnar based. So it works very well. And then Tableau does the visualization stuff awesome. So you can literally connect everything within hours—or within an hour, I would say.

I would say Tableau plus Redshift—it feels like it's one thing. It works really well together. And there's always a few kinks here and there, but our implementation has been going great.

And in terms of data in the cloud, the main challenge we had really was just security, like what kind of data are we sending up there, because we have a lot of customers’ information, so we have to get a lot of security clearance for that. But once we have a real business use case for it, it wasn't that tough.

But to get up and running on Redshift was really quick, to get up and running on Tableau is really quick, you know, as you know yourself probably. So the two of them combined together works really well.

Tableau: Can you give an example?
Abhishek: And what I mean by up and running really quick on Redshift is let's say you have an analytics team or a database engineering team or something that's setting it up.

They're not going to spend days and days and days trying to get a server here and install things and push data to it. You can get up and running in minutes. I've set it up on my own. It's really quick.

And then Tableau, if you have the Desktop component, you just hook it up to the Redshift server, connect, run a query, publish it to the server online, and you're literally done in an hour. And it's great. So that's what I mean, the hardware and software coming together, it feels like one product.

You might also be interested in...