The Data Studio Returns Autonomy to Employees

Under the leadership of Mel Stephenson, The Data Studio has been at the forefront of business intelligence consulting and training in the UK since 2010. Achieving the status of Tableau Silver Partner, they championed Tableau Software with notable clients Honda, Skype and Accenture. In 2013, they merged with Tableau Gold Partner InterWorks. In this interview, Stephenson talks about how Tableau gives employees autonomy, gets them excited about data, and empowers them to take on ownership of their work and their responsibilities to customers.

Tableau: What made you start The Data Studio?
Mel: It was out of a real passion for Tableau. I couldn't believe what a transformative effect such a simple-to-use tool can have on any organization, and I really enjoyed helping other companies see the benefits from that.

Tableau: What’s the benefit of being easy to use?
Mel: It’s no longer a tool which is just for management; it’s for every level of an organization, so everybody has the opportunity to get really good, clear feedback on what they're doing. This quality of information and power to inform better decision-making was never possible before. I find it stunning. The more you use Tableau, the more parts of the organization it touches; and every part it touches it has another effect.

Tableau: How can Tableau change a company culture?
Mel: I almost don't know where to start the list. Every time you use Tableau, you improve processes; you increase the quality of customer care that you're able to deliver. It can change the way you manage a company by giving people more autonomy and their own feedback on their own performance. It removes the requirement for management to get involved and oversee to the same extent as before, so a lot less back-seat driving. By being more transparent, you give people a greater sense of ownership of not just the company and their own actions but their responsibility to customers as well.

Tableau: So the value of Tableau is empowering employees — is that quantifiable?
Mel: Tableau is not just for just big companies, and it's easy to use. So the thing that's really valuable about Tableau is how cheap it makes it for any organization to answer a question. And then they come back with an even better question so there is iterative improvement—there's so little human cost in delivering that successive improvement that you actually embrace the opportunity to “make it better.”

Tableau helps get this virtuous cycle going, and you're willing customers and users to come back with an even better questions, because Tableau makes it easy to make everybody look like a superstar.

Tableau: Do you feel a real attraction to Tableau in the UK?
Mel: I think it's clear to us in the UK that Tableau is becoming popular very quickly. The adoption rate is high and the enthusiasm and appetite for that product is only a few years behind the U.S. Everywhere I go where people getting their first sight of Tableau, that same enthusiasm and evangelism, that same wow is in the UK now.

Tableau: Personally, how has Tableau impacted your work?

"Tableau has unlocked a huge amount of passion for me and excitement about going to work every day."

Mel: Tableau has unlocked a huge amount of passion for me and excitement about going to work every day. We work with different organizations from week to week, each with different questions and a different set of challenges, but every single time I know that it's going to be fun. It's going to be quick, and it's going to be easy. People are going to love the results, and it's going to be for them—it's completely about them; they totally own it. And for me that's so rewarding, it's fantastic.