1 2 3 Previous Next 34 Replies Latest reply on Oct 16, 2015 11:56 AM by Joe Oppelt Go to original post Branched from an earlier discussion.
      • 15. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics
        Bill Lyons

        I certainly identify with all of you on the challenge, and I appreciate seeing different people's way of trying to "move people" toward Tableau.


        Here are some of the things I am doing to help people see the value of charts over numbers in our organization:

        • Using Actions to connect the data points to their applications. I have done this for our Philanthropy department, where they have a menu action which opens Microsoft CRM directly to the donor account. We embed this Tableau viz directly into their CRM home page; they don't know where one ends and the other begins. For our HR department, where they have a menu action which opens our custom application directly to the select Recruiting form. Both of these remove multiple lookup-search steps, and make eyes pop!
        • I have a display in the hall outside my office, which rotates through various Tableau vizzes and includes other fun stuff to get their attention. Within a week after installation, another department manager has commented, “I want one of these by my office!” And, she was serious - she has put in a request to IT for it to be installed next month. This helps create visibility, accessibility, interest, and questions. The fun stuff helps keep people interested and looking for what's new. Here is an example of "fun stuff" I posted this week: UFO small.pngI recently added a touch-screen overlay to it, so they can now interact with the vizzes. During our pledge drives, I put stats showing who has taken the most pledges by hour, day, and total. People like looking for their own names. Bottom line: create buzz by providing things that people want to see.
        • Speak their language. Most of our Executives use iPads a lot, and they have Apple TVs in their offices. I began presenting my monthly reports to them from Tableau using an iPad, and putting it on their screen with AirPlay. At one point a couple of months after we purchased Tableau, in one of these presentations, our CFO asked, "So, when are we going to see Tableau?" It was awesome, because I was able to say, "You are looking at it!" They began asking for it, so I gave them access via the Tableau mobile app.
        • Use Tableau for every presentation. I never use PowerPoint anymore - I use Story Points.
        • Geographically mapping the data catches the eye in ways nothing else can.
        • When none of that works, sometimes I rant. It usually goes something like this: Tableau makes data come alive. When you can interact with data, play with it, ask it questions and get answers, make decisions and make a difference, data comes alive! It pains me greatly whenever I hear or see the question, "How can I print it?" Printing, exporting to PDF, or PowerPoint slides KILLs the data. It is like a corpse lying in a casket: you can still see it, but you can no longer interact with it! RIP. woman in casket.jpg

        I hope this helps keep the conversation going! Good stuff!

        • 16. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics
          Simon Runc

          hi Bill,


          Many thanks, and some very useful advice.


          Yes inspiring people is hugely important, and love some of your examples here (very creative). Although I use the 'Hans 200 Countries, 200 Years, in 4 Mins' to make a point about visualisation...I've deliberately chosen that one as it's also a very inspiration use of visualisation, and one that resonates with people. I also intersperse any training I do (usually every hour, or when 'I'm loosing the room'!!) with 'cool' Vizes on a variety of 'non-business' subjects (and not always Tableau), very much in the spirit of engaging them in visual data...here are a couple of my faves


          If Twitter was 100 People… | Information Is Beautiful

          Snake oil? Scientific evidence for health supplements | Information Is Beautiful


          It's very true about Maps. In my industry Store Estates, or Population Demographics (if we are looking at Location planning) don't change very quickly so a map, on their weekly dashboard, has very little analytical use. However people love maps (especially Execs), and as you say this can be a 'gateway' into Visual analytics. My personal theory on Execs is that they love the map as it shows 'their domain'!! (I can see them all comparing maps down at the golf-club at the weekend!! )


          Also a great idea on Presentations. I still tend to do most in powerpoint/google slide and then switch over to Tableau for the data bit.

          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • 17. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics
            Michael Mixon

            This is a great and very timely discussion.  We've been using Tableau at my company for several years, and I felt we were gaining some good traction in a culture that is very, very Excel-dependent.  The security blanket statements in this thread ring true.  But I've been able to convert many people to seeing the value of data visualization in general and Tableau in particular.  That trend has shifted lately, though, with the arrival of some new executives who either have a Pavlovian affinity for Excel or who simply haven't seen a data visualization that changes their mind.  I'm seeing a lot more requests to put reports into Excel, which is heartbreaking.  I describe a bit of that crisis in my recent blog post (Pixel Drifter: A Tableau Fanboy's Existential Crisis). 


            What I've started doing since writing that post (and making a dent in Seattle's micro-brew stockpile) is two things:


            1. Identify opportunities to provide a "before and after" view of data, with the "before" being the Excel spreadsheets everyone is familiar with, and the "after" being a set of Tableau views that clearly tell the story in the data.  This often involves identifying what the key metrics are that are buried inside the Excel cross-tabs and then utilizing simple yet rich visualizations to highlight their performance and what possible actions could get taken.  I've also taken to recording short videos of me interacting with these views, since I've found that the anti-Tableau crowd will often even refuse to download Reader to view these (and our Server experience isn't always as speedy as I'd like to be).  This way they can watch me interact with a view and explain why I set it up the way I did.


            2. Continue to work with people who see the value in Tableau and help them build out their stories.  This way it's more than just me extolling the values and virtues of data viz.


            It's early days yet....the Excel resurgence is still strong, but I'm hopeful that with a bit of diligence (and a lot more beer), I can start changing the tide again.  If not, come find me in a Northwest bar somewhere, doodling line graphs with beer foam.



            • 18. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics
              Simon Runc

              hi Michael,


              Thanks for posting, and also the link to your blog on the subject...a very interesting (and all to familiar) story!! also a very good point on how much more rewarding your job can be (as well as it being a far more effective way to find insights)...so a win win. I think job satisfaction, and thus in the end staff-retention, is a much over-looked aspect when showing business' the 'power/advantages of visualisation'.


              Yes totally agree with your approach here, in trying to find little nuggets of insight, and show the 'value' to the business of those insights. It's hard work (which can often end up with the Viz-evangelist in a bar doodling line charts!!), but good news is (in my experience anyway) that you do reach a tipping point when suddenly everyone get's on board (which sounds like the situation you used to be at!)


              Thanks for sharing your approach, and keep-fighting-the-good-fight!!

              • 19. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics
                Simon Runc

                ...Just wanted to add a link to an article my boss has recently written, very much in line with this discussion


                Managing by Averages… of Averages | The Data Animators


                Not quite Cross-Tab vs Visuals, more Reporting vs Analytics...but the points made are the same, and a nice worked example of the difference. Enjoy

                • 20. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics

                  One reason numeric machine ready reports are important to its consumers is because they can be used as a platform for new reports, presentations, and various post-analysis. Said differently, report consumers want data because they want the freedom of access to data in question whenever wanted or needed.


                  Give someone an image and this person is bound by whatever is delivered by someone else. End of story. Post-analysis, post-presentations, and new reports are either impossible or too costly to do because its machine ready data isn't available.


                  Give the same person the frontlying and or underlying data, and he can make his own post-analysis of whatever question he/she has about the data.


                  Why not give dashboard consumers & designers both visuals & data by improving Tableau as a data delivery tool !?



                  The specified item was not found.

                  Aggregated View Data Views

                  Better Export to Excel

                  Tableau Server - .csv export aligned with report layout

                  • 21. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics
                    Rody Zakovich

                    Hello Kettan,


                    I have a question (And I apologize for not knowing), but your tag says Kettan, but I have seen Johan referenced, so I have to ask, are you the same person? LOL





                    P.S I agree with all the points you make. But not every manager/exec has read Information Dashboard Design 54 times like we have, so we need to be sure to train/teach our users on proper chart/dashboard design before we allow them to "create what they want". Data is a beautiful thing, but I think we can all agree that it can be a very dangerous if not used properly.

                    • 22. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics

                      your tag says Kettan, but I have seen Johan referenced, so I have to ask, are you the same person? LOL

                      Yes, Kettan and Johan is the same person. Kettan means 'the cat' (nom. sg. def.)  in Faroese. Mjauww 


                      I have always been fond of cats and still am, but at the time I went under cover, we sheltered a miserable and fearful cat which had been away from home for more than a year. We really liked her and enjoyed to see her improve her emotional and physical health while we had her. Now she is back with her original "owners".


                      Data is a beautiful thing, but I think we can all agree that it can be a very dangerous if not used properly.

                      I agree, but there is no guarantee that a hired analyst will use them properly either 

                      • 23. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics
                        Simon Runc

                        It's a tricky one...and guess it comes down to what do we want Tableau to be? From my experience 'Enterprise' reporting solutions (thinking SAP, Oracle...etc.) they are very good at the creation and dissemination of reports...and usually come with an 'after thought' BI component bolted on (usually at some extra expense)...the poorness of these components usually mean they are not used (and this does Visualisation a disservice).Tableau is the other way round...and is something I alluded to here, in response to Chis' very interesting post on "why/how Tableau has become such a 'mystery' 'under-the-bonnet'"

                        Re: How Do You See Tableau's Canvas?

                        A good visualisation should prompt another question, in which case wanting to 'draw' the data out to investigate this next question is quite reasonable.


                        Once we've worked with a Client for a while, we are going down the route of letting them have access to the data, and build their own Tableau models (we do this by exposing certain views from our Databases rather than through Tableau). It is, though, a highly requested task (and often met, understandably, with confusion as why it can be so difficult from a tool, in their eyes, that obviously hold all the data!) and I can see both sides. As Rody points out there is a fear that people are looking for a particular story (usually with some down-ward pressure!) and so will 'use' that data to confirm what they already think, rather to 'genuinely' find what is 'really going on'...but being an analyst offers no immunity to 'downward pressure' or 'confirmation Bias'. I would also fear that Tableau becomes much more like an 'Enterprise' 'does-everything' solution (usually this means 'Jack of all trades, master of none'!) and less a Visual-first tool.


                        ...I'm afraid I'm on the fence on this one!!

                        • 24. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics
                          Rody Zakovich

                          Hello Johan,


                          You bring up a very good point


                          kettan wrote:

                          I agree, but there is no guarantee that a hired analyst will use them properly either 


                          There is no guarantee that the analyst will properly use it. And it is a shame. I, by no means, consider myself an expert at data visualization, but I try my best to use the resources available, i.e Stephen Few, Edward Tufte, Alberto Cairo, and, of course, the Tableau Community. And at the end of the day, I think that is all "most" of us can do.


                          To bring things full circle...


                          I think that a lot of the questions we get here in the community are "Crosstab" related (Conditional formatting questions, comparing Date Periods within a crosstab, etc). And I think that's because (some) executives/managers OR (even worse), analysts want Tableau to be Excel, or they want to use Tableau as a quasi-ETL tool to get things from a DB, shape it, and export to Excel.....


                          That's why this discussion is so important. Yes it would be great if I could give my end users the data so they could answer their own questions, but what would they do with it?


                          I wish there was more organizations dedicated to bringing data visualization classes/workshops to schools. Imagine a world where proper data visualization is taught at an early level. Where the first chart we learn isn't in the shape of a Pie! Who knows where we could go as a society!


                          Ok, enough of my philosophical rant.


                          Great talks as always!



                          • 25. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics
                            Simon Runc

                            ...to prove your 'using Tableau as a feeder product for Excel' point...


                            Does anyone know how to export Dashboard or Worksheets to Excel?


                            There is also a point to be made on Commercial realities. From the various ideas/posts...etc. people want a combination of;

                            Alteryx for it's ETL capabilities

                            Tableau for Viz

                            Enterprise Report Creation and Dissemination Capabilities (something like Micro strategy)

                            and although often not specified as such, many of the capabilities of SQL


                            A quick tot-up and you are looking at £50k to £100+K (the plus could be almost number!)...and they want it all in a single $2k (non-code, drag-and-drop) single solution...good luck!!

                            • 26. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics

                              A good visualisation should prompt another question, in which case wanting to 'draw' the data out to investigate this next question is quite reasonable.

                              Answering new questions is sometimes part of what I had in mind, but not the main thing. The major issue as experienced with previous users is that they simply need free & easy access to their data to do their job.


                              Tableau already has export of data where especially View data is the best and most powerful, but at the same time in great need of being improved! Today users can get data out of Tableau, but they get too much noise with it, that is,  1) columns they don't need,  2) wrong order of columns,  3) wrong format of numbers and dates, and not the least  4) wrong aggregation level. This is why I had hoped* export of data would be improved and that these ideas would get (even) more support (they are sorted by personal priority):


                              016    Aggregated View Data Views

                              045    Tableau Server - .csv export aligned with report layout

                              318    Control what displays in View Data

                              004    Better Export to Excel


                              Said differently, I am "only" asking for improvements of "existing features" 


                              * hoped:

                              Currently I am not a Tableau customer and therefore not in need of any improvement in their products.

                              • 27. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics
                                Alexander Mou

                                Wow, without Rody Zakovich ' s recent post on Bill Lyons, I wouldn't have come back here to see the long conversations. What a great topic!


                                My own opinion is a bit like kettan's. I think it won't be Cross Tab against Visual Analytics. The right question to ask is how they can complement each other in various use cases. The purpose is always to get message across.


                                My designs these days tend to always attach a cross tab to show the drill downs, next to the charts.


                                In order to be backward compatible, I found a little trick to embed Excel in Tableau:

                                Vizible Difference: Embedding Excel in Tableau

                                This might be useful to some of you sometimes.

                                • 28. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics
                                  Joe Oppelt

                                  Currently I am working on a dashboard that displays very high-level stuff in very simple bar charts and a minimal crosstab below (that essentially shows what a simple tooltip would show, without having to scroll anywhere), and behind the little crosstab is a colored box that shows either red/green/yellow (stoplight) for a particular percentage calcuilated from the values in two particular bars.  Our C-team (CFO, CIO, CEO, etc.) can look at this dashboard of metrics and quickly pick out success/failure at a glance.


                                  But analysts will want to see what is going on behind those high-level sums, and they want excel so they can poke and prod the data at much lower levels.


                                  Associated with each barchart viz on the I have an icon sheet with a URL action to display a low-level giant crosstab in another sheet.  It's not on this dashboard.  It's published in another workbook they they don't see.  The URL string is something like this:


                                  <Excel String for Donation Amount>


                                  And on that icon sheet I have that calc field.


                                  My calc looks like this:


                                  "https://(server)/#/views/(workbook)/DonationAmountExcel.csv" +

                                  "?Is%20Pledged="+[Is Pledged]+

                                  "&Period%20to%20View="+[Period to View]+

                                  "&Fiscal%20Month="+str([Parameters].[Fiscal Month]) +

                                  "&Retention%20Category="+[Parameters].[Retention Category] +



                                  All the conditions that the user selected to generate the barchart viz gets sent to the published sheet (in this case, DonationAmountExcel), and that sheet has filters that use the various parameter values I send.  If they looked at it in Tableau, they would see a basic (and cumbersome) crosstab, but because I added ".CSV" in the first line (underlined above) at the end of the sheet name, it opens the URL as an excel sheet, which the user can save.  All the data behind the three high level bars on the user's viz gets expanded to about 10 columns in excel, all the way down to the individual account level, with all sorts of other dimensions added in to allow the user to feed his existing analysis methods.


                                  At first we were just showing the user how to use "view data" and grab tjhe underlying data, but I have very little control over the content and layout of the download that results from that.  They get my calc fields and other data-shelf stuff.  They get it in a layout format that tableau chooses.


                                  But doing it the way I described lets me pick column order and the content of the columns.


                                  I'll be incorporating this in a ton of other places.

                                  • 29. Re: Cross Tab Reporting vs Visual Analytics
                                    Simon Runc

                                    Hi Joe,


                                    What a great idea...I've had a menu action that takes the user to a big 'cross-tab' dashboard, but can really slow the experience down (as the cross-tab can have 1000s of text marks)...this is a wicked solution...the best of both worlds. Thanks for sharing...I too shall be incorporating something very similar to many of my models