Specialized Bicycles Components

Specialized chooses Tableau Online to quickly and securely scale up global sales reporting


Reduced weekly report creation time from one day to under an hour with Tableau Online

Digitally transformed analytics to scale business intelligence across five continents

Eliminated infrastructure roadblocks to enable authentication and security upgrades

Specialized Bicycle Components has designed and manufactured the world's most innovative bikes and gear since 1974. Their mission is to innovate and inspire to improve riders' lives. They seek to enhance the cycling experience and get more people riding bicycles because they believe bikes have the power to change the world for the better. Based in California, Specialized has satellite headquarters in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Australia.

Sales and finance teams at Specialized rely on data to guide their decisions, make accurate forecasts, and manage customer accounts. Until recently, analysts used Microsoft Excel to prepare reports for local personnel in sales and finance. “Analytics is decentralized here,” explains analytics manager Dana Greenlaw. “Our small, core team provides self-service resources so remote analysts can work independently to meet their local teams' needs.”

That kind of autonomy didn't effectively scale with static spreadsheets containing millions of rows of data. When Greenlaw and a coworker first discovered Tableau, they immediately saw its value. It delivered  dynamic, visual analytics that would empower coworkers and executives to dig deeper into their data and help analysts spend less time preparing reports and handling requests.

Before Tableau, we'd present a static report to execs, and after that, they'd send emails with a dozen follow-up questions. Now, the execs can poke around in the report, get insights, and answer questions in real time.

Specialized first adopted Tableau Server to build a robust, new data warehouse to support dynamic reporting. But to scale the new capabilities to remote analysts meant overcoming a few challenges. Says Greenlaw, “We needed to reduce the burden on IT so we could make other upgrades more easily, like adding single sign-on and row-level security.”

Tableau Online was the best choice to support automatic upgrades and streamlined reporting. In one year, Specialized scaled Tableau from a handful of Creator and Explorer licenses to 80 total, adding multiple Viewers that all access analytics in the Tableau cloud. “By going to an online, cloud-based option, we no longer had to manage our Tableau infrastructure at all,” says Greenlaw. “Adoption was organic and fast because we could steer all remote teams toward Tableau as a common solution. With everyone on the same platform, even the way we deliver reports is scalable now.”

In addition to infrastructure savings, Tableau Online benefitted Specialized by returning valuable time to the analysts. Instead of taking a whole day to build and format a weekly report, many analysts can typically create one in under one hour. Tableau has quickly become a crowd favorite at Specialized, and many analysts openly talk about how much they enjoy working with the software.

Moving to Tableau Online made it much faster to onboard remote teams when they'd come to us with requests. We'd look at the other tools they were using—including some they'd built themselves—and say: That's great…now how can we help you save time and overhead by getting that into Tableau?

This ease of use has helped teams across the company to become more data-driven in their daily workflows. Beyond the sales and finance organizations, the “rider care” warranty team and even IT has adopted Tableau Online. And as part of the continuing effort to engage cyclists and understand their needs, Specialized is now looking at new data toolsets to drive other business functions like project management, and to monitor IT and digital helpdesk performance.

“We believe cycling changes lives,” says Greenlaw. “If centralized access to data can help us reach more people and run our business more efficiently, that means we have the resources to help our customers get the most out of their purchases, while we' also find new ways to fulfill our mission.”

By going to an online, cloud-based option, we no longer had to manage our Tableau infrastructure at all.