Tableau Review
Top 3 Tableau Fears


Yup. It exists. And it comes in many forms. I've done a lot of Tableau presentations to managers and analysts over the past couple of years and the same concerns keep cropping up.

- The Elusive Single Version of the Truth - (the Sasquatch of data fear)

This one is usually expressed by upper management frustrated with being confused about the numbers they are being presented with and having to ask for all the details about the data in order to trust that taking action on those numbers will be worthwhile and/or safe.

Those of us in the analysts army know that this is a red herring and has absolutely nothing to do with Tableau or any other tool. There is no single version of the truth. There are 'truths within context'. A problem exists when that context isn't transparent. For example, different departments will create different versions of the same named measure with inclusions/exclusions that are pertinent to their work. So the results may be valid in one circumstance, but not when considered for another.

What is needed is proper data governance, open communication and collaboration/sharing of information. More importantly, it is the analysts duty to note definitions and sources within the reports. Remember, that report will go out into the world (or rest of the organization) without you there to explain it.

- The Dreaded Spreadmart Invasion -

This fear is often expressed by those in BI departments as it was once believed that BI departments could help us get control over the Excel invasion. Spreadmarts have existed since humans started putting numbers down on paper. It's why we invented filing cabinets. Once we all got our hands on Excel, our filing and co-ordination system became inadequate. Most organizations have a filing problem, not a reporting problem and it certainly wouldn't make sense to stop access to the analysis tool to gain control. That would be like a library ignoring the dewy decimal system and not allowing people to borrow books because it was too difficult to keep track of them.

Managing the implementation of Tableau within the organization provides the opportunity to address this problem: set up proper Projects and Groups, build and co-ordinate access to data sources, assign senior analysts to review and vet workbooks before publishing, and most importantly SHARE best practices and learnings.

- SS Data Security -

This fear is completely legitimate and ridiculous at the same time. There are already people with access to data who have no business having access to data. Try and weed them out. I have worked in places where the server (SQL) was inaccessible for days because a 'senior' analyst has left a badly built query running and forgotten about it. Seriously. My point here is that if you are concerned that certain people shouldn't have access to data connections with Tableau because they might pull all the data and freeze everything, well, they would be doing that same thing with any tool tool you gave them. They can even do it with Excel.

One of the great things about Tableau is that you can share the data if you choose. You can set up a data connection, put limits on the amount of data it pulls, do the analysis, prepare the dashboard and send the workbook to someone without having to publish it. If they have Tableau, then they can open it up and use the data to conduct more analysis. If they have rights to the connected data, then they can refresh it. You've limited the amount of data that can be pulled (e.g. rolling 12 months), so they can't crash the system. If you have Server, there's even more options.

All three of these issues can be addressed through COLLABORATION. Instead of creating rules, create conversations.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
2 visitors found this review helpful

3 Comments

it_user3876ConsultantPOPULAR

In Tableau, you can easily weed out all those people to whom you think should not have access to the data. Tableau provides all the necessary security required for the protection of enterprise data. You can create user level filters for controlling access of unauthorized persons. User level filters can be created by two methods

Manually: You can manually create filters to limit access of a user to a specified data.

Automatically: A calculated field is created that automatically defines whether a user can access the underlying data or not.

14 January 14
Larry KellerConsultantTOP 5POPULAR

Thank you for your comment. Enterprise data is just not that simple in many companies. if the desktop user is restricted to only trusted sources inside a company and those sources only, that is not the typical desktop user. I am aware that users can be controlled as you point out but in the very real world there are rogue MS Access data bases and Excel spread sheets that are often integrated into a Tableau Workbook. Those workbooks are published to servers sometimes with a vetting process and sometimes without any review.

Next time that you attend a user group session ask some folks if they are limited to only enterprise sources....................trusted sources only

14 January 14
Tonya BentonReal UserTOP 20

I echo Kelly's comments as I have heard similar fears in the institutional research profession when discussing the democratization of data. I think Tableau Software triggers these issues deeply - visualization that taps innate human perceptiveness is powerful and promotes clear understanding of organizational performance and accountability (or lack thereof).

04 September 14
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