ICIS delivers market-leading intelligence and analytics to the global petrochemical and energy markets with Tableau


2,300+ unique visualizations created in just two years
Embedded analytics greatly improves customer insight
Live applications drive new commercial revenues

ICIS is the world’s largest petrochemical market information provider with divisions spanning energy and fertilizers. Its aim is to give companies in global commodities markets a competitive advantage by delivering valuable information and analytics tools, which enable them to identify and react to opportunities in constantly evolving markets. ICIS began using Tableau in 2016 to give its editorial team faster, more accurate access to key data insights, as well as give customers access to interactive embedded analytics. The company has also used Tableau to support its analytics tool, the Live Supply Disruption Tracker, which helps subscribers track over 3,000 planned and unplanned petrochemical plant shutdowns every year.

Delivering fast, accurate intelligence to buyers, sellers and analysts

ICIS has over 30 years of experience in delivering pricing intelligence, news, forecasting and analysis on global petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets. The company produces multiple daily and weekly insight reports covering key aspects of these markets, which its subscribers use to make informed buying, selling and investment decisions.

“Our journalists spend the majority of their time speaking to the industry and collecting price information on various commodities,” says Manca Vitorino, head of data operations at ICIS. “At the end of each day, they transform that information into price assessments using rigorous methodologies that help our customers understand how those prices might change tomorrow, next week or even next year.”

In order to do this accurately, ICIS’s editorial team requires fast access to a wide range of current and historical industry data, as well as the tools needed to analyze it quickly and efficiently. Prior to Tableau, the team relied on Excel for much of this, which often led to problems with data fragmentation, quality and accuracy.

“Excel is easy to pick up and use on a basic level, but without careful management, the process of manually analyzing data can become both time consuming and prone to errors,” says Manca.

“The first time I used Tableau, even with no prior experience I was able to create content that would be difficult in Excel. I knew this would be a valuable tool for our editorial team,” explains Manca.

With Tableau now in place, the ICIS editorial team has a central data platform where they can conduct in-depth data analysis and continue delivering detailed market insights with ease. In just a few clicks, they can download and compare historical pricing data across any time period they require, further adding to the insights of each report. This data can then be presented using intuitive Tableau visualizations that are easy to understand.

Tableau’s use hasn’t ended at the editorial team either. Since implementation in 2016, the number of users has grown to over 600 and includes several ICIS teams including editorial, sales, marketing, analytics, product and technology.

“Tableau’s ease of use, functionality and visual presentation, has made it a great tool for numerous divisions at ICIS,” says Manca. “In a short space of time, it’s become essential to nearly every aspect of our operations.”

Tableau lets us create and embed vivid visualizations directly into our reports, giving customers a different way to engage with our content.

Embedded analytics increases report value to customers

Another key benefit of Tableau for ICIS is the ability to embed interactive visualizations directly into market reports, which are more engaging than static graphs and tables.

“As we transition away from traditional print reports to an information and analytics provider, we want customers to be able to dig deeper into data wherever they felt necessary,” says Manca. “Tableau helps us create and embed visualizations directly into our reports, giving customers a different way to digest data.”

In the last two years, ICIS has created over 2,300 unique visualizations. Many of these have been embedded into its daily and weekly intelligence reports, where they attract thousands of views and interactions. Manca highlights one example in particular:

“In 2017 we created a Tableau visualization showing the impact of Hurricane Harvey on Texan petrochemical production capabilities,” says Manca. “To date that viz has been viewed almost 34,000 times by customers all over the world, showing just how important insights like that can be on a global level.”

Tableau allowed us to build a fully interactive, real-time dashboard that could be customized to look like an internal ICIS application, which is exactly what we wanted.

Powering market-leading live intelligence applications

ICIS has also used Tableau to power its innovative Live Supply Disruption Tracker, which offers subscribers invaluable 24/7 insight into all planned and unplanned plant shutdowns around the world that might affect the global petrochemicals supply chain.

To do this, the service maps and calculates 132 individual datasets in real-time, encompassing over 43,000 data points in total. The results are then displayed via an embedded Tableau dashboard on the ICIS website. Since its creation, the tracker has captured over 3,000 shutdowns every year.

“Tableau allowed us to build a fully interactive, real-time dashboard that could be customized to look like an internal ICIS application, which is exactly what we wanted,” says Manca.

The application uses color coding to quickly show planned vs unplanned shutdowns, while multiple filtering options allow viewers to refine results based on specific subsectors and drill down for more details on each shutdown as needed.

“The Live Supply Disruption Tracker is a good example of how Tableau has helped us to further enhance our pre-existing data into a new customer offering,” says Manca. “For an organization like ICIS, where data is a key element to our growth, it’s initiatives like this that further add to our portfolio and future prosperity.”