Tableau Review

As a self-service tool it decreases the burden on IT and enables faster production

What is our primary use case?

We use it for different groups within the bank. They produce the visualizations they need based on their requirements. It's just rolling out. It's mostly for reports or visualizations - different financial applications. There are also HR applications as well.

For the groups that are advanced, they are pretty happy with the results, and the ones that are just starting the process, the journey, our group is ready to help. There are a lot of learning materials out there to get them trained and try different things out.

How has it helped my organization?

In the long run, things should be faster to deployment, to production, than they used to be before.

It's the speed of getting results, based on what the user actually requires. Before it was a very strict, follow the FDLC process. There was a lot of documenting and control that you had to follow before it went to production. We have decreased those a little bit so that they can move to production a lot more quickly than they used to. So time to market, or time to production is a lot faster than it used to be, because of self-service.

What is most valuable?

It's the ease of use, the quick deployment from developing it and then moving it on to our servers. It's much faster than our Cognos deployment.

It is also a self-service tool so it decreases the burden on having centralized IT-type teams or developers. It has now gone out to the different groups within the bank, and we just have to make sure that they follow certain governance rules so that they don't create crazy queries. It's easier for them. Hopefully, in the long run, they will get their visualization much more quickly. They are closer to the team members that are giving the requirements so they get feedback right away.

What needs improvement?

I think they have just come out with a tool called Prep, which we just heard about today. It was something that was missing, a little data preparation type of tool. I believe it is an ETL tool but it's not, as far as I know, a robust type tool.

The other thing is a data modeling tool, a little bit more advanced modeling. I would like to see functionality like Cognos has in the Framework Manager.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We are somewhat new at it, so as more and more people onboard to the server, we'll see how that is being managed. Of course, if the performance is slow, we have to find out the reasons, the causes. If it has to do with how they are building certain things, we have to send that information back to them and then they have to correct their models.

We are in the early stages right now. I wouldn't consider ourselves in the middle or advanced stage yet. We're onboarding a number of customers now to our servers.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is one of the things that we're going to have to address as people start onboarding. It's going to be the challenge, where we have to choose which BI tool to use. Thre is scalability in term of the number of users and in terms of the volume of data. We don't know the volumes of data that we're dealing with. If they're extracting data and putting it onto our server, that all will take up space. Those are things that we're going to discover over time.

Tableau is also improving its product. We're not using the latest version which has some performance improvements. That's because we don't have the hardware to support it. That is something that Tableau will, I'm sure, improve over time as well and catch up with some of the bigger players.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't personally used support but when there is an issue, an internal ticket gets placed and if we can't resolve it ourselves, then we have a platform team. There is a member there who will submit it to Tableau. There have been a few of those.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

The switch was driven by the end-user level. We discovered that people were actually getting the self-service tool without us really being aware of it. Once we found out that they were using it, we did some research and looked at the market, saw how popular this tool is and how easy it is to use compared to our existing tool. We said, "Okay, let's not fight the end-users. Let's help the end-users, let's adopt it and help them grow." 

That is how we've moved to this level where we've actually built out of a center practice. We're now a group, not so much of developers, but of people that will help the individual businesses build their own projects.

The most important criteria when selecting a vendor are support, for sure, and their ability to advance in the technology. We have found with Tableau that there is such a community out there. They have a lot of information that is freely available. Those are the main things, support and that they advance their products, that they don't get stale.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't the one that did the server setup. Definitely, on the desktop, it's very easy to use. And I suspect that the server is also fairly easy. It's pretty straightforward in terms of deploying projects onto the server and promoting it on to production. I haven't heard of any real hiccups yet.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

In our case, people were already using Tableau. There are other groups within our company that are using other types of tools like MicroStrategy, and we already had BusinessObjects and Cognos here. But because of the ease of use and the self-service nature of the product we decided, for products in that category, that Tableau was the best.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be that you should consider Tableau. Certainly, for visualization-type projects, it would definitely be one of the products to look at, and I would recommend it at this time.

Because we are just starting the process, I would definitely give it an eight out of 10. We are getting a lot of good support from the groups using it, but that can only get better as we get more and more groups adopting it, and they are happy. It's really going to be a matter of how happy our users are in building their projects. As that grows, and if their feedback is good, then that will only increase the product's rating.

Tablo has a good community base and we're trying to recreate that community within the bank as well so that different groups of individuals can help each other. That's what we're promoting, and it's working. We have our own intranet site that people can go onto and ask questions and get answers. We also have training and all sorts of different information that's Tableau related.

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