After a recent presentation, several attendees asked me about the applications of Visual Insights and Tableau. Many companies are investing in both tools and are trying to figure out the right tool for specific applications.
Tableau has found its sweet-spot as an agile discovery tool that analysts use to create and share insights. It is also the tool of choice for rapid prototyping of dashboards.
- Tableau is very flexible with its data import. Tableau's data blending capability is very intuitive. This capability is useful when you have data spread across several different sources that has not gone through ETL processes. This is a problem analysts deal with routinely. They are unable to wait for the data warehouse team to develop ETL processes to provide the physical models they need to build an analysis.
- The Tableau interface is Excel-like and has a low barrier to entry for analysts that are used to working in Excel.
- Building a dashboard by mashing up visualizations in a Tableau worksheet is extremely simple. Users are able to build good presentation-quality dashboards in a very short amount time.
- Tableau's annotations capabilities and its time and geographical intelligence are key differentiators.
- Tableau has overcome limitations in data sharing with the introduction of a Data Server in Tableau 7.0. The Data server allows Data sources and extracts to be shared securely and opens up interesting new possibilities.
If your application can take advantage of the above characteristics, consider Tableau.
Visual insights (VI) is MicroStrategy's data discovery tool. VI has many differentiating features which make it attractive:
- VI is free if you already license Report Services.
- VI supports visualization and dashboard creation over the Web.
- Your existing MicroStrategy reports may have content that can be used as datasets for visual exploration. Converting a report to an analysis is a one click action.
- Within a MicroStrategy project, applications can be built relating multiple visual insights analyses. A visual insights analysis may also support ad-hoc drilling workflows that access the data warehouse.
- VI is Flash based and it is possible to export analyses and view them offline.
- VI is built on top of a shared infrastructure and is fully integrated with distribution services, olap services, report services and other key features of the MicroStrategy platform such as its security and administration features.
Consider VI for the following applications:
- As an exploration interface for existing MicroStrategy reports.
- As a Web-based tool for providing self-service visualization creation capabilities to business users. Provide a layer of certified OLAP services cubes and report builders that are created by a developer community as a backbone for building these visualizations.
- For applications that need scheduled delivery to email/file/print.
- For applications that have complex security requirements.