Tableau Review

It makes it possible to share dashboards with a team.​

Valuable Features

It's easy to start using to deliver off-the-shelf visualizations. It makes it easy to share dashboards with a team. It's a comprehensive solution that can scale from desktop (analyst, developer) to server (large end-user audience) with small or no changes.

Improvements to My Organization

In my experience, its greatest achievement has been opening stakeholders' minds. It pioneered the self-serve trend (which may have social roots) where people "own" their data and IT is a service provider to ensure visualization content is based on robust data. Connecting to a massive number of sources (that can be blended in Tableau) has also contributed to this achievement.

Room for Improvement

It came at a cost. Developers end-up, many times, scratching their left ear with the right hand, in order to make visualizations more powerful, effective or appealing than off-the-shelf ones. The next challenge for Tableau will be combining ease of use for basic-to-mid level complexity design (self-serve, "power users") with flexibility and repeatable development in a corporate environment (professional designers), avoiding "hat tricks" or "cookbook" style.

Also, when building corporate dashboards, it may be challenging to gain the type of control needed without having to resort into some forum tricks or Zen-Master's advice. Workbook, connection versioning, and governance would be great for mid-to-large size organizations. Server-wise, having options to trigger alarms to an Administrator under certain conditions would also be an asset.

Use of Solution

I've been using both Tableau Desktop and Server for four years.

Deployment Issues

No problems at all. Very robust and well documented (both Desktop and Server versions)

Stability Issues

No problems, at least with the data sources I have used Tableau so far - MSSQL 2008 & 2012, Teradata RDBMS 14.x, and MSAS Cubes.

Scalability Issues

Tableau can scale to massive datasets without problems (I used a few, approximately one billion-row tables), provided a DBA is part of the team to fine-tune tables and views. The proprietary columnar database engine is very fast and robust.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

It's great.

Technical Support:

It's great, although forums are usually the first resource to get answers from.

Previous Solutions

I have helped customers migrate from MS Pro-Clarity and Oracle Hyperion.

Initial Setup

Tableau is not a demanding platform in pre-set environments before rolling-out as long as tech specs are met. However, certain design decisions need to be made in advance to ensure good performance and smooth scalability on a Server deployment (e.g. permissions, standards, etc.).

Implementation Team

I act as an implementation consultant.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

Go through the exercise of planning short and mid-term to understand what the best licensing model is e.g. per Core vs. Named Seats, number of Designers, etc.

Other Advice

Understand your organization's profile. Do you have or want/need to develop power-users or will you use traditional IT developed dashboards in an intranet/internet? Although Tableau can fit both scenarios, the first option would be the most benefited one when compared to other solutions. Look into redefining the relationship between business stakeholders and IT, since the former will demand more consumable information for analysis instead of packaged reports.

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