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Tableau Online – Data Visualization for All

Tableau Online

One of Ness’s customers is an online retailer which relies on an Enterprise Data Warehouse and a Business Intelligence platform to support their data analytics needs and day-to-day business operations. The company faced several issues:

  • Inability to get real-time data insights for various business performance metrics. The BI tool is used mostly for ad hoc reporting.
  • The existing BI Analytics platform didn’t provide any data visualization and trend capabilities that would enable them to immediately take action based on these metrics.
  • These metrics didn’t have a common definition across various business units within the company. This made it impossible to collect meaningful metrics across different business units, since each business unit had a different definition for each metric.

This company decided to modernize their EDW and BI platform so that it could support Data visualization capabilities for the senior executives in the company, and also provide monitoring and alerting capabilities of various business performance metrics. This data visualization capability would enable the organization to quantify the health of the business in near real-time and take actionable decisions based on the trends, historical data etc. Another goal of this initiative was to design and build certified dashboards with common definitions across various departments, to ensure one definition for each metric across the company.

The last and most important goal of this initiative was to provide key metrics (sales, conversion rate, new/repeat customers, and sales per visitor, Average Order Value (AOV), discount rate, and service rate) in real-time. This ask was from the CEO of the company and thus had the greatest visibility. The CEO also required that these data visualization capabilities should be enabled in a very short timeframe, and that the platform should enable power users to build their own dashboards.

The initiative started by identifying all business needs and what capabilities were required from the tool. The outcome of this exercise was a Capability Metrix which consists of all the needs from the functionality perspective as well as the infrastructure perspective. The mandate was very clear to favor a Cloud-based data visualization tool, as the entire company is making the transition to the Cloud so as to enable faster implementation and faster deployment.

The next step was to select the data visualization tool that could meet these requirements. This selection process required extensive market research to arrive at a short list. We then created a POT (Proof of Technology), a POC (Proof of Concept) and a working model using each of these vendor tools. Based on these POCs we are able to clearly identify the strengths and weaknesses of each of these tools. The tools that we considered for the POCs were

  • ChartIO
  • Tableau
  • Looker
  • Sisense
  • MS Power BI
  • Spotfire
  • Qlik

The selection was based on the following criteria:

  • Must be Cloud-based
  • Time to implement – The initial implementation and any future upgrades (cloud or on-premise) should be easily executed, and should be transparent to the users, i.e. no changes required for existing configurations and dashboards.
  • Licensing cost – Subscription-based model that includes services, support and on-boarding efforts.
  • Security – The tool must be able to integrate with OneLogin SSO Authentication
  • Tool support, community and thought leadership – After-market support, community presence and company brand and leadership.
  • Gartner Magic Quadrant – Choose a market leader.
  • Mobile version
  • KPI alerting – Threshold can be set, ability to create custom indicators
  • Data connectors – This includes Big Data tools, Cloud-based databases and Google Analytics

Finally we made the decision to select Tableau Online as the Enterprise Data Visualization tool. This tool had an edge when compared to other tools, although the competition was close, given that most of the tools had similar features.

The current state of progress: all business performance metrics have been moved to Tableau Online, the underlying data is refreshed in near real-time, and the business is able to make quicker decisions using this platform. The current architecture is pushing the near real-time data from internal analytic platforms to Tableau Online Cloud. Using these data sets the management dashboards have been developed and implemented. The future state will implement a data ingestion framework, where the real-time data will be ingested into Cloud-based storage and databases. At that point Tableau will be fully integrated with the Cloud.

To summarize our experience: Tableau Online is an industry-leading data visualization tool. It enables the company’s business users to explore and understand various data sets and metrics in real-time. Users find this tool easy to use, so it truly enables data democratization across the company.

Ness works with leading organizations to envision and create a roadmap for transforming their data plans into actionable insights. Contact us to learn more about how we can help.