Seagate: Understanding millions of data points with Tableau

Seagate uses Tableau in several departments, including supply chain, operations, inventory, human resources, and finance. With Tableau, the operations team measures manufacturing processes to gauge success. And the team can easily analyze past trends and plan for the future. Eunice Lim, Senior Manager, Business Analytics, speaks about Seagate’s inventory dashboard—containing millions of data points. The dashboard captures finished goods that come into the warehouse, helping track inventory and reduce error.

Tableau: What types of data does Seagate analyze with Tableau? Eunice Lim, Senior Manager, Business Analytics: We look at data from finance to quality data—that means yield and failure analysis. Because we are in the storage business, we have drives, and we have systems. So, you know, anything that goes through the whole supply chain. So all the different departments, quality operations, inventory, HR, finance. Everything. So we look at processes, look at the flow of things, because we are in a manufacturing environment. [We look at] how smooth it can be from one station to another, and the time taken from one station to another. And also looking at anything that's quantifiable, measurable. So we just want to improve the measurements and make sure that we hit the target or even do better. Tableau: Can you give an example of a dashboard that helps Seagate achieve these goals? Eunice: Tableau also helps us in tracking the past trends, current trends, and also in predicting what's in the future so that we say, “Okay, we think that if we continue this way, it might go this direction and what can we do to facilitate that or to reduce that tendency?” We have an inventory dashboard. So the inventory dashboard captures the finished goods and all the different locations like supply and materials that come into our warehouse that are waiting to be used in the manufacturing process. It was 30 million—30,000 lines. And then, you know, inventory is ongoing. It just changes every minute. So we have managed to capture that in an inventory dashboard. And then, obviously, inventory is about money on hold. If you don't sell anything, if your materials are all lying around, nothing gets done. Then your money is stuck there, and you're not generating income. Tableau: Where would you be if you didn't have Tableau? Eunice: If I didn't start using Tableau, I would still be using Excel. I would still have a fear of data. And then I wouldn't have a bigger view of how data can help in my day-to-day work. Whereas with Tableau visuals, I will look at Tableau, look at the colors, look at the bars, and I look at the numbers. Because it's more fun in that way.