Tableau: So you’re providing self-service business intelligence?
Sheel: We'd like to make it completely self-service. But it's a real learning process for the business to realize that they can work in this way. They've never worked like that before. They're used to phoning people up and e-mailing spreadsheets around. So, it's a difficult challenge to get people thinking in this new way that “Hey, here's the data. Here's where you can find it. Here’s a link; go and look at it yourself.”
Tableau: Are you finding it easy to implement?
Sheel: From the desktop point of view, it's just another client application. I look at it as an extension to Office. It sits beautifully next to Excel on your desktop. There's nothing for us to maintain there, installing an application on a desktop PC is something our desktop support team does regularly. There's no additional training required to get up and running.
Tableau: How do you train people on Tableau?
Sheel: I recommend the online training. I did all the web training, which was fantastic. As new people join the company and pick up the tool, we just say it's all available online for free, go and have a look. Whenever you have time, you can pick it up in bite-sized chunks, you don't have to commit a whole day to it, pick it up as you like.
Tableau: How has Tableau impacted your company?
Sheel: Our traders now while they're on the phone, while they're being quoted prices, they can look up in real time how much more of this product can they buy. We have a dashboard set up to answer that specific question. They've never been able to do that before. For our risk department, they can look at our exposures and aggregate them across all our funds in a uniform way. Our portfolio management group now has really good control over seeing all the funds that they manage in one place. And the portfolio managers can see where they are today, how much cash they have, what securities they’ve bought, how they are performing over time. That is all right there, what trades have they done recently.
Tableau: How do you control permissions for who can access which data?
Sheel: We're a Microsoft shop. We have Active Directory, plugs right in, and it's actually a really nice single sign-on user experience for Tableau Desktop. There are no logon screens or anything. And when people look at their dataset, because all the permissioning is coming from SQL Server, they only see the data they're entitled to within our system.
Tableau: So you’re pleased with the security?
Sheel: We definitely look at the security, the reliability, the scalability. These are always our primary concerns. In terms of scalability and performance, that's all taken care of on the database side, and when we look at our deployments for Tableau Desktop, it's all NT authentication, that fits perfectly into our environment. So, we can create one dashboard, publish it to the entire company, and no matter what group you're in you'll only see data that's relevant to you. You'll never see something you're not entitled to, because that is enforced at the database level. SQL Server simply will not give you that information. So, it was a really good match with our security policies, certainly on the desktop side.
Tableau: Do you use Tableau for your own department?
Sheel: I use Tableau to look at what is my team doing: How many support calls are we answering? Who are they coming from? Which applications are the most expensive to support? What could we do to bring that cost down? Where is the demand coming from in terms of new developments? What does that pipeline look like? Are we serving that quick enough? What are the new projects coming up? Do we have enough resources to meet those demands over the next quarter, over the next six months, over the next year? We launch a lot of new funds all the time, and business is really picking up over the last year. So, we need to know that we have the resources available to meet that, so we don’t have to say, "well, you can't launch that fund today, because we're too busy doing this other project."
Tableau: Any suggestions on how to create interest in Tableau internally?
Sheel: The way we approached that was to put up a series of demos, simple stuff, to just show what we can do with our existing datasets, and took that to a senior level. Those guys obviously loved it; they saw the power of what you can get out of that, and they kind of pushed the message down. Then, that way we kind of get a bit of interest from the business side coming to us and saying let's work together. They say things like, “That demo does look really cool. Oh, and can you do this and can you do that?” And very quickly you've got projects off the ground.