ExxonMobil Data Quality Center achieves 95% time savings

For multinational energy company ExxonMobil, there’s always a flood of data involving all aspects of oil and gas. With Tableau, ExxonMobil has:

  • Empowered customers to get the answers they need themselves
  • Improved data quality for work in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Saved a remarkable amount of time—in some cases, up to 95%

In video 1, above, data quality advisor John Ossege and data analyst Ebony Weddington discuss how they are “putting the power back into the users’ hands” by sharing dashboards on Tableau Server. In video 2, John shares how an intern was able to create a data quality dashboard for management—with no prior Tableau knowledge.

Tableau: What has Tableau done for ExxonMobil? Ebony Weddington, Data Analyst: Tableau gives us the ability to instantly see those problem areas. So time saving is just huge. Tableau: How would you describe your data needs? Ebony: We want to ensure that our engineers and our geoscientists have quality data that's readily available so that they can go off and make key business decisions that are going to affect our entire corporation. Tableau: How do you make your data readily available? John Ossege, Data Quality Advisor: We had this thing that we started called our Gallery of Dashboards. When we build a dashboard we put it out in our gallery. It's just out there on the server. And everybody that we have trained up in our roll out period, they can have access to those dashboards. So they can pull them off the server, take them, and do whatever they want to them. We strongly encourage that. Tableau: What led you to Tableau? Ebony: Our previous tool, our users wanted more flexibility. They wanted something that was easier to use, something more intuitive. John: So we went out and started looking, and that's when we discovered Tableau and we started using it. Ebony: We have a project area that we've created that we store our dashboards within our data quality center of excellence, and we support those dashboards. So we publish them out to the Tableau Server. Tableau: How does Tableau empower people to use data? Ebony: We can give them an actor role where they can actually go out and interact with the dashboard. They can pretty much utilize all the filtering, they can see the underlying data, which is really important. We're putting the power back into the user's hand. It's not just us doing this, 'we're going to give you licenses,' but you'll be able to go in, you'll be able to tweak the dashboard, you'll be able to edit it. So it's not like it's a stale report that you can't touch . They're able to go in. They can customize. They can do whatever they need to do to meet the requirements of their business. John: Let me give you a perfect story about this. We taught some people in Buenos Aires on our basic rollout how to go ahead and build dashboards. And we showed them our basic dashboards and we didn't hear from them. A couple of weeks went by. Part of our rollout philosophy is we want constant communication with our customers so we can monitor their progress and help them get over any hurdles. So we finally got a hold of them they said, well, we kind of built a dashboard. We said, well, can we see it? And we called it up and we looked at it and it didn't look anything like the one we had created. But, man, was it powerful. It sat there and it had everything they needed to do and the answer was instant, right. The guy looked at me and he goes, you know, by using this dashboard we estimate we're going to save 95 percent of our time. And I thought about that for a minute and I used to basically do what they're doing now and I believe that's really an accurate number, because here's what they had to do. Tableau: What were they dealing with before? John: They had to sit there and run a report from the corporate repository. The report was not user-friendly. They then had to take that report and put it into Excel. They had to clean it up. I mean excess rows of dashes, multiple header lines, clean all that up, then they took it into Access and from Access they went ahead and ran their queries against it and got their information. All that goes away. All we've got to do is get our data out of the application, out of the repository, put it into Tableau, the dashboard is built, numbers are right there. It saves 95 percent of their time.

The Tableau dashboard has become the tool of choice for them to monitor how well they're doing on that project and that data cleanup initiative, as well as in the future on monitoring how they're doing from a data quality standpoint. So it's been key there.

“This dashboard has become the tool of choice"

Tableau: What would you say is the strongest aspect of Tableau? John: I think one of the real strengths of dashboarding in Tableau is the visualization aspect. Let me give you a perfect example. And this addresses a lot of areas. We brought in a summer intern back in late May/early June. He had never even heard of Tableau. We explained to him what we were doing, and we asked him to actually work with our end users, our data consumers. So as soon as he'd pick up a little bit about Tableau, understood what we were doing, looked at the dashboards we designed, we were ready to take that next step. And so he went over, and he started working with the data consumers, and he asked them, "what it is you want to see in a dashboard?" Tableau: Can you tell us more about this project? John: One of the things that came back was they wanted to see a summation. Instead of running like 17 or 18 different business rules, and I'm looking at "is this data is clean, this data is valid, this data needs work"—management doesn't have time to look at all that information. They're mostly concerned about just show me the result. So what our intern did was he went ahead and took a weighted average of all the individual tests and produced one number, and that number represented the quality over a given area, and this would be geographic area. This was in the Gulf of Mexico. He then went and got what we call lease blocks into the Gulf of Mexico. He plotted that on a map. Then he took all the work he had done in Tableau and he had it now down to one number, which represented the percent, converted it to color, plotted that color inside those blocks. Tableau: That's awesome! What impact has that had on the company? John: So now management can take a look at this map, and they can see exactly where the data quality problems are and the overall quality of all the data in the Gulf of Mexico. Ebony: This dashboard has become the tool of choice for them to monitor how well they're doing on that project and that data cleanup initiative, as well as in the future on monitoring how they're doing from a data quality standpoint. So it's been key there. John: The most important thing that everyone in support that can give management is more time. So I can save them tens of minutes just by looking at this one display and they can realize exactly either where the good data is, or the bad data is. Tableau: What do you use for data integration? Ebony: So right now, within this particular rollout, we're primarily using Oracle. Oracle connections. And that has been really helpful because it's allowing us to connect to Oracle, have the data in there, but visually we're able to see the data. Tableau: How has data analysis changed over the course of your career? John: I've been working in data for a long time and I mean I was working back when we had to sit there and go into huge rooms and pull up reports and look for things. It took a long, long time. Well, fast forward about 10 or 20 years. Here we are today. We've got this stuff right at our fingertips just like that. It's incredibly rewarding to see where we have come and what the future is going to bring.