A Tableau Evolution

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.

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