Making her work more accessible to agency clients would require some major changes. “I knew what agencies could do with this data,” she says. “But in order for them to use it for the majority of their clients, I had to develop a project with a lower price point, and a faster schedule.”
In the spring of 2012, Baier realized she already had a tool that might help—Tableau. Baier first heard about Tableau in the mid-2000s, and had lobbied previous employers to use it. When she opened Audience Audit, she purchased a Tableau Desktop license.
Baier had played around with Tableau in a PC environment on her Mac, but hadn’t had time to work with it extensively.
“I was trying to figure out how to make this major shift in the business, and all of a sudden it was like the light bulb went on—‘Oh, wait a minute. I have Tableau, maybe this would help,’” she says.
She wanted to get up and running quickly, so Baier decided to ask for help. Baier had been following Michael Cristiani of Powerhouse Factories, a leading Tableau Community member, on Twitter, so she contacted him and offered to hire him to build an initial workbook.
“He was great. We went through a few rounds, and I came out with a small workbook, four or five worksheets that he built to show the data the way I wanted to show it.”
Baier then tried to replicate the workbook herself. “I basically reverse-engineered it and figured out how he built it, and he was great about answering questions when I was stumped. Before I knew it I was doing stuff on my own, adapting, incorporating different views and finding new ways to explore my data.”
Baier now uses Tableau exclusively for presenting results to clients. “I hardly ever do any kind of a Keynote presentation anymore. Sometimes I have clients who want that for executives, but 90 percent of my projects just go out in Tableau.”
She appreciates the ability to allow her clients to dig into their own data through using packaged workbooks and the free Tableau Reader application.
“I can add filters and give them a workbook that allows them to look at their data in different ways, export chart images for their own presentations, or download crosstabs for their own needs. Some of my clients don’t want to do that, so I send them a PDF of the workbook—or if they want specific images of particular slides for their own presentations to their client, I can export those.”