Speaker Spotlight: Chathura Manawadu, The Coca-Cola Company

Tableau users are taking their organizations (and sometimes their careers) to new heights through innovation, comprehension, and business optimization. Whatever the data, their goals are being achieved with Tableau. 

Each month we will feature one of our Tableau Conference speakers in the Speaker Spotlight Q&A. You'll learn about their past experiences at conference, what they're looking forward to, and gain a brief glimpse into the session they'll be presenting at the Tableau Conference in Seattle, September 8-12, 2014.

In this month's installment of the Speaker Spotlight Series, you'll hear from Chathura Manawadu. By day, Chathura works as a Delivery Manager for market-facing applications at The Coca-Cola Company. By night, you can find him off-roading in his Jeep or snapping photos of the world around him. Check out some of Chathura's photography here.

Tableau: How do you use Tableau in your job?  
Chathura Manawadu: We have been a very traditional Business Intellignece (BI) group with fairly structured reports that are segmented by subject area. However, our users were never completely satisfied as they wanted all the information integrated, and available offline. As Sales Associates, our users visit stores all over North America and wanted to have the information they needed available immediately. Getting online and connecting via VPN would take too much time, and neither they, nor our customers had the patience to wait for a report to refresh over a cellular connection.

With Tableau, we have been able to provide our users with integrated, highly interactive and visually appealing dashboards.  Available offline as well as online, these dashboards provide our associates and customers the information they need to have a data-driven discussion, and make the best decisions possible. 

Chathura Manawadu, Coca-Cola Refreshments
Tableau: You will be giving a session at the conference, BI Reboot: Engaging Customers & Driving Sales with Tableau . What can attendees to this session expect to learn? How will this help them in their career?
CM: Business Intelligence has often been confused with reporting, with the prompts and drilldowns being mistaken for intelligence.  Our session is an example of how we are taking BI and analytics from a reporting and corporate function and moving it to the front line. This means providing decision-makers with the information they need at the right time and right place in order to make informed decisions.  

Along the way, we also learned a few other things. Although we were new to Tableau, we went from zero to full enterprise deployment for nearly 7,000 users in less than four months. We plan to share details on how this was achieved successfully, and how we struck a balance between information consumers and content creators to avoid information overload.

Tableau: Have you attended Tableau Conference previously? What was your favorite part? 
CM: This year will be my first Tableau Conference. I have learned from others who attended that it was a very exciting conference with energized crowds. I'm looking forward to being part of it this year.

Tableau: What advice do you have for someone who is just getting started with Tableau?
CM: My advice to new Tableau users is don’t temper your expectations of Tableau with the experiences of other BI applications.  The simplicity of Tableau allows for a rapid development in an agile environment – an opportunity that should be harnessed and exploited, rather than hindered by over-governance. 

Tableau: What is the dashboard you’re most proud of?
CM: While we have many dashboards currently being developed, my favorite is the one that we have already deployed.  It’s my favorite because I believe we as a team broke the mold in terms of what BI meant for our company and our associates, and delivered a dashboard that truly added value to our business.  No one asks for a report anymore; it’s a Tableau dashboard they want.

Tableau: If you didn’t have Tableau, what would happen?    
CM: The same thing that would happen if we didn’t have smartphones. Back to the dark ages. :(

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