Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tableau 8 is Digital Photography in a Film BI World.

I'm sitting here in D.C. at the Tableau 8 road show. Dustin Smith is presenting Tableau 8's abilities in advanced analysis. The big new features are all on display, and they're well worth spending the time to get very, very familiar with.

Dustin's also showing lots of not so big advances that make a real difference in the ease and velocity of analysis. This is terrific stuff.

Digital Photography?

Explaining why Tableau is such a great thing can be surprisingly difficult at times. One can wax rhapsodic about its elegance and clarity, its ability to achieve insights otherwise unattainable, its embodiment of high quality of analytical information design principles, its superiority to Excel, BO, Cognos, QlikView, [name your BI tool here]. And it can mean nothing, or even engender a skeptical response.

But... this one tends to resonate.

Tableau is like digital photography, and other tools are like using film.

Creating a data image in Tableau is nearly instant, it takes only a few seconds to get something really, really useful and valuable. And the cost per viz is almost zero, just like taking another digital picture is virtually cost free. Creating a Business Object report, or an Excel chart that needs a pivot table to be build first, is a costly, time-consuming activity that requires planning, setup, and development. time, energy, and effort.

This is Tableau's great virtue - the reduction in the barriers, the friction, between people and their data, just like digital photography removed the barriers between people and the pictures they take.

And, like the best digital cameras, Tableau can take great snapshots, but isn't limited to casual point-and-shoot. You can compose and create museum quality images with great fidelity and polish, with only a little more effort.

And now I'm off to take Tableau out into the data world and make great data images.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chris - nice article. The metaphor of digital photography to describe the value of next-gen data visualization like Tableau over traditional BI frontend tools is an excellent one.

    My colleagues and I at Attivio use similar metaphors to describe Attivio's new business value on the BI backend: Attivio enables a "complete business picture" that freely combines structured and unstructured data.

    I referenced your article in Attivio's new blog post, post-Tableau 8 Roadshow... Have a look, and again, great post.