Walmart: Faster decisions with people analytics

Walmart’s global people analytics team, a division of human resources (HR), provides people analytics to leaders and project owners across the globe. In video 1, Adrian Goh, Manager of Global People Analytics, speaks about how with Tableau, the team can take a question from an executive and immediately adjust their visualization to get an answer in minutes. In video 2, Adrian discusses storytelling with HR data, moving from simple Excel sheets to rich visualizations that can be tweaked in real time, and shared easily. The teams put dimensions of company culture on a map to compare global dynamics—and leadership can drill down into data, encouraging discovery.

Tableau: How has the executive team reacted to Tableau? Adrian Goh, Manager of Global People Analytics: Executives really enjoy the way that we've been able to use Tableau to make it more of a data story as opposed to a data sheet. And I think that's one of the key advantages of using Tableau at this point, is you're able to insert a little bit more creativity, a little bit more flair into your presentations, and people tend to receive that a little bit better. Tableau: How has your decision-making process changed? Adrian: One of the ways that we've been able to use Tableau to make more data-driven decisions is to have those quick touch bases with leadership where leadership comes to us and asks, "Hey, I have a problem. I know you have the data. Come with me for 30 minutes and let's explore." We're able to take the data to the office and bring out those stories, whether that's true highlighting different pieces or discovering things within the data that really speak to that problem.

With Tableau, we’re able to really tell a bit more of a story, as opposed to more static views, and longer-term views that really help leadership understand the strategy behind the initiative.

Tableau: How do you share insights? Adrian: We build dashboards for a lot of people across the entire organization. Leadership, for the most part, would be our customers. But we also build dashboards for people who are kind of the project owners who are really looking at the day to day for each initiative. Tableau: How did you get leadership buy-in to roll out Tableau across the organization? Adrian: One of the ways that we were able to get leadership buy-in to grow Tableau was to show that speed to insight in real time. As opposed to saying, ‘oh, you know, give us a few minutes to get back to you and I'll pull that data really quickly.’ It's invaluable when you're able to create that in such a short amount of time that, you know, most of the time, leadership is still amazed by how quickly we can pull together visualizations. I will say that there have probably been a number of different instances where seeing how much we're utilizing Tableau in all of our different reporting and dashboards and self-service tools has really impacted leadership's view on the tool itself.

Mapping company culture

Tableau: What has been the impact of Tableau? Adrian: The way that people in Walmart stores are impacted by Tableau is really the initiatives that are rolled out and are measured using Tableau. We're able to really tell a bit more of a story, as opposed to more static views, and longer-term views that really help leadership understand the strategy behind the initiative. Tableau: Can you give us an example of one of your Tableau dashboards? Adrian: One of the dashboards that we created last year was one that really looked at culture across all of the different countries that Walmart has a presence in. The way that we built it was very simple, it was a very quick engagement. It was something that was needed on a pretty short timeline. And by putting together that data and throwing it onto Tableau, we were able to just pull in the map and pull up the data on culture dimensions and have, you know, all these different culture dimensions right there within the day. It took more time to collect the data than it did to visualize. Tableau: Has Tableau changed the way you do data analysis at Walmart? Adrian: Tableau has changed some of the ways that we do our initial dive into the data. I will say that when it comes to the specifics of, ‘hey, let's take a look at how we cut this,’ it's made it a lot easier to make those cuts on the fly as opposed to going back and re-running the data with a different split or multiple splits and trying to tell a story that way. Versus, let's say, you know, if you have a whole bunch of data and you're splitting it out in a way that makes the most sense to you, but might not make the most sense to your customer right at that point. Tableau: Can you speak about your Tableau deployment in Global People Analytics? Adrian: So this was for, you know, one of those, ‘hey, we've got to go, we've got to go’ type projects. It's one of those projects that really had a short timeline and we needed to get the insight to the customer, to the leader, just on a really quick turnaround. And what we were able to do as we started building out the dashboard was, you know, we'd built it in a kind of community-oriented way. The entire project team was in the room and I started pulling data from all of the different data sets that we'd compiled and putting it up on the screen. Tableau: You did this right in the room as they asked the questions? Adrian: We were able to, you know, pull together some key insights that leadership were really surprised to find out. Can't say what they are, but once we kind of flipped the graph a little bit, we were able to highlight some things that had previously never even crossed some of the project teams' minds. And were able to tell the story out of the same data, but in a very different and interesting way. Tableau: How has the use of Tableau grown at Walmart? Adrian: This is one of my favorite parts about knowing Tableau is when I go to somebody who I've worked with before and I show them, hey, look at what I can do with this tool. And the reaction is almost always, "Where can I get that? Because I'd be really interested in using that in my own work.” Since the 2009 proof of concept with Tableau, we went pretty quickly from 950 Desktop licenses within the first six months to what is now I think close to 5,000 Desktop licenses in the company.