Tableau and the Enterprise Data Warehouse: The Visual Approach to Business Intelligence


概述 | 本文内容: 

Enterprise data sets are large, detailed, and often complex. For the spreadsheet or typical report recipient looking for the underlying patterns, this is a worst-case combination. Reports are often designed to serve as detailed lookups so they have rows and rows of summarized data, making it difficult to see overall patterns and trends.

Traditional business intelligence (BI) applications help by providing graphs, dashboards, and text-based reports. Just as users must be able to ask ad-hoc questions, they also need effective ways of slicing, dicing and interrogating the data. The graph or dashboard that led to yesterday’s insight may not work for today’s problem.

What’s needed is an approach that closes the gap. Enterprise data management demands a visual BI solution that leverages the work of the data steward in the EDW, while solving the business intelligence needs of the business user. Tableau answers this call by providing visual BI software, while leveraging best-practice applications for data visualization and business intelligence. It gives users flexible, easy ways to display data in whatever format makes the patterns most visible—resulting in the fastest possible insight.

We've also pulled out the first several pages of the whitepaper for you to read. Download the PDF on the right to read the rest.


Organizations focus on acquiring customers, increasing revenues and profitability, building and delivering quality products and services, and in general outmaneuvering the competition. Understanding finances, customer activity, product delivery, and yes, even the impact of yesterday’s business decisions all need to occur on a more compressed schedule than ever before.

Companies need to arm their employees with the tools and data to enable immediate investigation and understanding of the business. People need relevant analytics to identify trends, outliers and anomalies, to share findings, and to monitor progress of initiatives. Supporting those efforts is the imperative for IT organizations today.

Over the years, organizations have built enterprise data warehouses (EDWs) to hold the ever-increasing amounts of business data being generated. The success IT has had in capturing every data transaction has made a rich store of data available to help guide business decisions. Instead, the volume of data available in the EDW has overwhelmed and frustrated the business user.

Traditional business intelligence (BI) platforms were developed to solve this problem but typically resulted in stifling the analytical curiousity of the business user and burdening IT with report-writing requests. Far too often, there is a significant gap in the promise and reality of the traditional BI projects.

What’s needed is an approach that closes the gap, one that leverages the work of the data steward building the EDW while solving the business intelligence needs of the business user. Tableau Software was designed from the ground up by database and graphics experts to close exactly this gap. The combination of a powerful EDW with Tableau Software makes for an enlightened solution that can finally deliver on the promise of business intelligence.

Tableau provides powerful, flexible applications that anyone can use to understand data from any source, including high-performance, high capacity enterprise data warehouses. The resulting dashboards, reports and visualizations can easily be shared across organizations in web-based analytics. Using Tableau to access, visualize and share the data in an EDW allows for an analyst to be active with the data, to ask and answer questions, and to naturally benefit from data warehouse investments.

Visualization Helps People Understand Data

Enterprise data sets are large, detailed, and complex. For the spreadsheet user or typical report recipient looking for the underlying patterns, this is a worst-case combination. Spreadsheet applications have a lot of power, but are hard to use against large, complex sets of data. Reports are often designed to serve as detailed lookups so they have rows and columns of summarized data, making it difficult to see overall patterns and trends.

In the example below, drawing a conclusion from a simple cross-tabulation is difficult. Compare the cross-tab report to the graph below it. The graph makes it instantly obvious where sales are higher and profits are a problem.

Visualization is the difference. Data visualization helps communicate information more rapidly due to the fact that the human brain can process and understand a picture faster than it can process and understand a series of numbers that have to be compared and contrasted. As Colin Ware put it so aptly in his 2004 book Information Visualization,

"At higher levels of processing, perception and cognition are closely interrelated, which is the reason why the words ‘understanding’ and ‘seeing' are synonymous."

Traditional BI applications attempt to help by providing graphs, dashboards, and text-based reports. These do not go far enough. Just as users must be able to ask ad-hoc questions, they also need effective ways of slicing, dicing and interrogating the data. The static, inflexible graph or dashboard that led to yesterday’s insight may not work for today’s problem.

Tableau solves this problem by providing software that leverages best-practices for data visualization and business intelligence. It gives users flexible, easy ways to display data in whatever form makes the patterns most visible. The process of analysis is built on the actual data – not an abstraction. A business user is able to create and share their own dashboards, reports and views that make the underlying data patterns obvious in a glance. Using these live dashboards, reports and views from a web browser, colleagues and managers can manipulate, filter, customize and save these analytical results as highly relevant decision making support tools.

Your EDW provides the computing capability and architecture that allows massive amounts of data or summaries of those data to be delivered. Tableau lets business people appropriately access, manipulate and share those analytical frameworks. Together, they allow the business user to gain insight by changing perspectives and seeing information as data are compared. Thus, the business person does not lose perspective as he mentally navigates from one question to the next. And because he is more effective, he can be more effective in sharing and communicating information for better and faster decision making.

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