This is the second in a series of posts - known as the Tableau Ambassador Spotlight, where the Community Team will be interviewing a Tableau Community Ambassador.
Norbert Maijoor is one of our Ambassadors based in Europe. Located in in the Netherlands, he is fluent in Dutch, English, & German. He’s currently a consultant at Ciber, so he has experience with several industries. Have a question about using SAP? He’s your guy. Want some advice on how to get people interested in dashboards? He’ll show you to use your own data. Take a look into my interview with Norbert and get a sense of his journey with Tableau.
Tracy: How long have you used Tableau? And how did you get started?
Norbert: Two years. It was introduced by a user interface specialist with whom I was working. He was always talking about nice, clear designs, etc. and he directed me towards Tableau. I had known about it, but I hadn’t used it, and he told me that I should really look at it.
Tracy: So how did you end up learning it then?
Norbert: I did all the training myself. Based on everything you (Tableau) have posted on the internet. I did all of the examples. I never did an in-person training or workshop, as I have done with several other software technologies over the last 15-20 years. And that’s because the community that Tableau has is very opened compared to other communities. I learned it based on all the video instructions, instructions posted by other people, the blogs posted by other people, etc.
Tracy: How do you use Tableau? At work? In your personal life?
Norbert: A lot of banking organizations are no longer sending out financial statements to clients, instead they allow the client to download and export their statements. For this reason I adapted Tableau to show more financial insight to my family at home, which is very useful.
I’ve used it to show my wife that we spend a huge amount of money on our kids (ha!).
Tracy: So does your wife use Tableau too then?
Norbert: No, not by herself. It’s mostly me just showing her to drive the discussion.
Tracy: What is one your favorite Tableau projects that you’ve ever worked on?
Norbert: I did a project at the “Nationale Postcode Loterij”, it’s a non-profit lottery organization in the Netherlands. We displayed data in Tableau based on a Teradata database.
Tracy: What types of data were you analyzing?
Norbert: What they wanted to display was who was buying tickets, where they bought tickets, at which age they buy the tickets, when they buy the tickets, and various other information. They have call centers who use this information to target their audience effectively, so that they only call prospects who have the ability to buy again. It’s used as a marketing tool.
Tracy: What data sources do you typically use?
Norbert: Data integration is not only a technical thing, but also an organizational thing. And often it’s a very political thing. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on politics. What I always like to do is execute in a way that we first get the data in the right structure based on Excel sheets. That way we can build the dashboards as soon as possible. Then, based on the dashboards we build, people can see and imagine how it will look, and what the use of it is. What I am always telling my audience is that we want to go from a “push strategy” to a “pull strategy.” When data is visualized, they can judge it and they can value it, and they often say, “Ok, if you can do this for me, then I also expect that you’ll be able to visualize this or that in another way.” I don’t want to discuss with them the integration at that point of the project. I want to really present to them the dashboards “with the end in mind” as soon as possible.
Going from a “push strategy” where you’re always telling people is hard. It’s much easier to turn it around into a “pull strategy” where people are saying based on what we see, telling us how it should look based on their experience. That’s an easier conversation, I think.
Tracy: Where do you find data for your personal projects?
Norbert: On the web. There are so many different data sources on the internet.
Tracy: What type of data interests you?
Norbert: I worked on a project recently where we extracted all types of environmental data – so temperature, humidity, altitude, etc. We were looking at it in combination with the information we had on headache events.
We were trying to determine if there could be some kind of relationship based on the temperature, humidity, altitude, positioning of the person in question when the headache occurs. I really enjoy looking at environmental and geo-data.
Tracy: What is your favorite feature of Tableau?
Norbert: By far, all of the date functionality.
Tracy: What do you want to learn more about?
Norbert: The predictions. And of course, all of the functionality concerning R.
Tracy: What’s your biggest feature request?
Norbert: Ooooh. Let me get back to you on that one.
Tracy: How did you discover the Tableau Community?
Norbert: Google. Almost every time you state your question phonetically concerning Tableau, you will end up in the environment of the Tableau forums. That is great!
Tracy: What’s your favorite part about the Tableau Community?
Norbert: I feel like I’m at the tip of the iceberg! I am still learning more about Tableau. I know quite a bit about the front end of Tableau and how to use it, but there are other parts I don’t know as much about and can learn from others in the community.
Tracy: What advice do you have for new members of Tableau? Of the Community?
Norbert: The first step should be to go into the environment where all of the demos are on the site. Try to learn with the resources that are available. Additionally, YouTube is also a great source – there are videos from people from all over the world.
We can talk about not only technical solutions, but also about making the visualizations really nice with coloring, the correct formatting, the correct use of space, and things like that. There are very few people who really know how to make things beautiful. Making things beautiful is very important to get acceptance. When things are presented in the boardroom, it’s always about the bells and whistles. It has to be slick. The color has to be nice and elegant.
People are capable of achieving wonderful things. I believe that by posting more examples of dashboard items and explanations why a certain approach has been taken, we can motivate others to use Tableau in an even better way. Instant understanding and acceptance makes it easier to promote/adapt.
To see Norbert's profile and start following him - visit: https://community.tableau.com/people/norbert.maijoor.1
Check out his work on Tableau Public: https://public.tableau.com/profile/nalmai#!/