Tableau: Can you start by telling me a little bit about how Merkle is using Tableau?
David Andrade, Senior Business Intelligence Analyst: We're a marketing company, so there's a lot of campaign dashboards that we do, campaign performance dashboards. It helps keep and maintain efficiency when you're actually building dashboards. We do a lot of mock-ups in Tableau just because it's so fast to do it.
Tableau Server helps us automate dashboarding for our clients, and this helps really free up time on certain people so that they can focus more on driving insights rather than building reports.
Primarily at Merkle we use it for external clients, because we work with many clients day-to-day. We also use Tableau internally in the company. So we're building, operations reports, we're doing performance reports in Tableau, etc.
At Merkle we deal with all sorts of data. We do big data, we do medium data, we do small data. We do all the data. Any one of those data pieces could be just as important as the other. Feeding it into a tool like Tableau so you can really explore that data … It just really helps.
Tableau: That’s great to hear. You have some huge clients—can we assume you’re analyzing large volumes of data?
David: At Merkle we deal with all sorts of data. We do big data, we do medium data, we do small data. We do all the data.
Any one of those data pieces could be just as important as the other—feeding it into a tool like Tableau so you can really explore that data … It just really helps.
Tableau: Typically, what data sources do you connect to?
David: There are a number of different data sources that we can connect to. We're connecting Tableau to SQL Server most of the time, but we also have Excel files and text files that we work with. We're connecting it to Salesforce internally in the company. Really the sky's the limit with Tableau. As long as you have data you can build it.
Tableau: Do you blend data from different data sources?
David: Yes. I can just connect to my data sources, I can say, ‘All right, well, I want to take this thing from this data source, that thing from that data source and just blend the two together,’ and it's — it's really fast and easy.
Tableau: And you are using Tableau Server to share those dashboards?
David: Tableau Server is a really great way to get a customer to go online, view and interact with their data. It could be a live connection, it could be an extract of the data or a snapshot of your data. And it's an easy way for an end user to just go, consume the data, get what they need to see, and then just get right out and start making those business decisions.
Tableau: What is the benefit of sharing your dashboards this way?
David: People love seeing that they can just go right into the dashboard, refresh it, and it's there. The data is there for them to see and use. So it really helps just create a better environment for consuming that data and making decisions off it. It's almost addicting to me! I just can't stop using the tool. Once I start developing, I just can't stop doing it.
Tableau: We love to hear that! How is the reaction to Tableau within Merkle? Do your co-workers like it as much as your clients do?
David: It's actually spreading like wildfire across our entire organization. There are people all over Merkle that are using Tableau, and every day it seems like I'm getting new requests for people to get Desktop licenses, because everyone just wants to get their hands on it.
Tableau: Where did you first come across Tableau?
David: I was actually first introduced to Tableau in business school. And I was in an IT class. We were learning different tools and technologies, and Tableau was one of the things that our professor encouraged us to look into. What I really love about Tableau is that not only is it accessible, it's also really visually aesthetic. I just love working in a tool and playing around with it. And the charts that Tableau can produce for you are just amazing.