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I’m a business analytics consultant for Amadeus, a technology and software provider to the travel industry, at the Travel Intelligence department, and I often use Tableau to complete market studies. Tableau’s data visualizations allow our customers, airlines, and travel agencies to understand how they’re ranking against their competition. Visual analytics help us see if they are progressing faster or slower than the market, and as a result, if they’re gaining or losing market shares. Benchmarking is a great way to help users understand the impact of business decisions in data visualizations and we'll discuss how to do that in Tableau.
Context, such as a market share or benchmark, is one of the most important things I consider when building a dashboard because it fundamentally helps the audience interpret data. For example, when using a revenue benchmark, the viewer of a dashboard can quickly see that a decrease or shift in revenue may not be a cause for concern since a bigger drop (portrayed by the benchmark) was expected.
Tableau allows us to use benchmarks in many ways, but I favor and recommend these two approaches:
In the simple method, you’ll need to distinguish the company, the country, or the team you are analyzing and all the other members of our segmentation field.
Tableau allows you to distinguish with many different possibilities: Sets, Group, Table Calculation (Percent of Total), but the solution that I found to be the simplest, and with few limitations, is an “If” row level calculation.
In this Viz, “World Happiness,” we can see the simple method where there is a defined benchmark— in this case it is country.
This Viz allows the user select a country with a parameter [Country selected], and then use this parameter in an “If” calculation to isolate the KPI value of the country selected:
This calculated field will be null if the row is not for the member you want to analyse (the country choose thanks to the parameter [Country selected]). Now, this new field can be used to benchmark the KPI of one country against all the countries. In the Viz I use this field to show the country selected KPI with a line versus all the countries, the circles:
The previous approach works very well when you need to benchmark one country compared to the entire market, but it will not work if the user needs to choose multiple members of the segmentation field (e.g. multiple countries) as a benchmark.
Since we want to let the user select multiple members, a parameter cannot be used because only one selection can be made at a time. Instead, we have to use a filter. And because filters are applied to all marks on a sheet in Tableau, we’ll need to use data blending.
To illustrate the five steps of the advanced method we’ll use this visualization about the new indicators of wealth.
You should see that in the data section:
The main table that we are going to use for the Benchmark
The secondary data source is used for the selected country (in the Viz the [Country Observed] parameter)
In the primary data source use the following formula:
In the secondary data source, create a calculated field using this formula:
This calculation is using a parameter called [Country Observed] to allow the user to select the member observed.