Something to make Analysts Wet Their Pants

Visual analytics softwareI’m trying not to be too excited about this, but I am an analyst at heart and so it’s really hard for me to contain myself over this data visualization product I stumbled upon this morning. If I only knew how to link to our data sources, I would be exercising their 30-day trial to the max.

My task for the moment is to figure out how to build and deploy an operations metrics portal. Our biggest client wants real-time access to sales pipeline, product sales, and transaction numbers at the top level, but with the ability to drill-down into the data so he can see just how each customer is doing if he wants. We are using SugarCRM for our customer relationship management, so we were hoping to utilize that, but it just doesn’t meet our needs. Besides that we’ve discovered it’s pretty glitchy in some areas–it’s driving our QA guy (who happens to be my hubby) batty. I was thinking we may have to develop our own solution, which isn’t really even an option because our developers are completely swamped.

So I spent hours yesterday just searching for solutions that could help us. I looked at charting software like Visual Mining, Corda, Dundas, and Easy Charts. I looked at portal software, including Traction Teampage, DynaPortal, Intranet Dashboard, JBoss, Liferay, Metadot, DotNetNuke, and Apache Jetspeed. And it’s not that all these don’t offer good solutions–it’s just that they don’t make it really simple to analyze, visualize, and publish dashboards–in my case, operations metrics, but it’s extensible and useful for analyzing ANY data.

Ok, Ok, what is it already?

It’s Tableau. They offer a couple different products that I’m really itching to try: Tableau Desktop, which is what you use to build the visualizations, and Tableau Server, which allows you to publish your visualization to the web, with full Web-2.0-style interaction, filtering, and drilldown–in real time. What got me excited was:

·         It looks extremely powerful, easy, quick, flexible and does not require any programming time.

·         You can create many different kinds of data visualizations with their desktop product, then publish to the web.

·         There’s full application-level, view-level, and data-level security. You can publish to 1, 100’s or 1000’s of users.  You have full access control for every user at all levels. You can control who has access to the data, how they interact with the data, and how much/which data they have access to.

·         It can link to any data source: oracle, all sorts of other database formats, and even excel spreadsheets.

·         It has dynamic drilldown and filtering.

·         You can easily view the underlying data and copy/paste right into Excel–or copy a graph or chart for use in a powerpoint presentation.

I watched the Tableau Server demo and am just amazed at all the things this software can do by dragging and dropping and a few clicks of the mouse.

I immediately e-mailed some of my geeky analytical friends and am hoping they’ll try it out and tell me what they think of it. Anyone out there tried it yet? Please comment and let me know what you think.

Of course, I’ll post my thoughts (after I convince my boss to let me try it).

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6 Responses to “Something to make Analysts Wet Their Pants”


  1. 1 nathan August 1, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    I use it every day and absolutely love it!

  2. 2 James August 11, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Is there something complicated about your environment, or is it Tableau that’s failing to connect to your data sources?

  3. 3 krauseann August 11, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    I haven’t tried it yet–I really can’t because I don’t have access to our corporate data sources.


  1. 1 Update on Tableau Server « World of Usability Trackback on August 22, 2008 at 8:09 am
  2. 2 Tableau adds Maps and Web Application Integration « World of Usability Trackback on August 22, 2008 at 8:10 am
  3. 3 Data what?!? I just want to SEE the information! « World of Usability Trackback on August 22, 2008 at 8:11 am

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