DataOrbis brings big data to life for clients with interactive reporting and visual analytics in Tableau


90,000 customer products tracked in single report
98% of client reports now delivered in Tableau
Self-service analytics cuts time to insight

DataOrbis is a global IT solutions and intelligence provider specializing in helping businesses to break down data silos and transform themselves into data-driven organizations. Headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa, the company employs 82 staff and boasts a portfolio of international clients including Unilever, GlaxoSmithkline and Coca-Cola. DataOrbis began using Tableau in 2013 to make its client reporting much more visual and interactive than previously was possible using static PDFs. With 98% of reports now delivered through Tableau, clients can dive deeper into their data more than ever before and self-serve their analytics needs directly, cutting time to insight and boosting business performance.

Tableau's visual approach to analytics allowed us to present a huge amount of data in a way that wasn’t overwhelming to clients.

From static PDFs to fully interactive data visualizations

DataOrbis is passionate about data and how companies can use it to drive more efficient decision making across their operations. In order to achieve this, it has developed a proprietary cloud-based platform that collects, processes and enriches data from across a client’s value chain, before compiling it into detailed intelligence reports containing real actionable insights.

Prior to Tableau, these reports were presented back to clients via static PDFs. While sufficient for delivering headline information, they didn’t allow for any sort of filtering or interaction with the data contained within them. As such, clients were unable to dive deeper than the surface of the reports or find the reasons behind key insights themselves.

“Using PDFs for reporting really didn’t allow clients to delve into the data the way we wanted them to,” says Nicola Lapage, Head of Insights at DataOrbis. “We knew a dedicated visualization and analytics platform would offer much greater interactivity for clients, allowing them to answer business questions and use data to better inform decision making.”

Following an extensive assessment of leading analytics platforms, DataOrbis implemented Tableau in 2013.

“Tableau’s functionality was the best of all those we reviewed, while the fact we could host the server on our side made it much more appealing,” says Nicola. “Its visual approach to analytics also allowed us to present a huge amount of data in a way that didn’t overwhelm clients.”

Now, 98% of all DataOrbis reports are delivered through Tableau, allowing clients to interrogate every aspect of their data using intuitive dashboards and filters.

Catherine Holmes, Insights and Innovation Manager at DataOrbis cites a large wholesale customer as a great example of this.

“In a single report, the client is able to track 90,000 products across its manufacturers, regions and stores, using just three interactive dashboards,” says Catherine. “Tableau also allows them to drill down into individual product lines in an easily digestible manner, without being drowned in tables of raw data."

Tableau's functionality was the best of all those we reviewed, while the fact we could host the server on our side made it much more appealing.

Self-service analytics helps customers achieve insights fast

One of Tableau’s biggest benefits is the way it allows clients to self-serve their own data needs, instead of relying solely on the Insights team at DataOrbis to do it for them.

“Prior to Tableau, if a client had any follow up questions about a report, they would have to come back to us and ask for additional reports to be generated,” says Nicola. “Not only did this put a lot of strain on the team here, but it could also take quite a long time to find the exact information they were looking for, causing delays in providing it.”

Clients can now answer many of these questions themselves, directly within the Tableau platform.

“Tableau’s intuitive interface and interactive capabilities are helping to drive a self-help model throughout all our clients,” says Catherine. “Once they are set up on the platform, they can slice and dice their data any way they like, leading to much faster answers than previously possible.”

Clients can slice and dice their data any way they like, leading to much faster answers than previously possible.

Enabling a transition to real-time reporting

When DataOrbis was first founded, technology limitations meant it was only able to batch process client data once per month and there was a three-week lag in report turnaround time. As a result, the information contained within its intelligence reports was up to one month out of date by the time the clients received them.

Over time, the introduction of new technology has significantly cut this delay and DataOrbis can now provide reports to clients on a daily basis. Soon the company plans to move to real-time reporting, with Tableau playing a key role in enabling this.

“Now, with Tableau plugged into our cloud platform, clients have a direct window to their data at all times. As we migrate to a live service model in the future, whatever information we can see, our clients will be able to see as well.”

Our Tableau support network extends all over the world, from Canada to the UK and beyond. There’s always something new for us to learn, while online resources such as Viz of the Day help us generate ideas and develop innovative new ways to visualize data for our clients.

A global support community that solves issues and generates ideas

For Nicola and Catherine, Tableau’s extensive global community has played a major role in its success at DataOrbis.

“Back in 2013, we were one of the first companies in South Africa to adopt Tableau, so there weren’t many local experts available to us at the time,” says Nicola. “But whenever we ran into an issue, all we had to do was reach out to Tableau’s online community and within no time at all we had the answers we were looking for.”

The Tableau community has also helped Nicola and Catherine to formulate training plans for DataOrbis staff and clients, as well as advance their own knowledge of the platform.

“Our Tableau support network now extends all over the world, from Canada to the UK and beyond,” says Catherine. “There’s always something new for us to learn, while online resources such as Viz of the Day help us generate ideas and develop innovative new ways to visualize data for our clients.”