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What You Should Know About Tableau

Posted: Sep 6, 2017
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What You Should Know About Tableau

Tableau is an industry leading business intelligence (BI) tool that focuses on data visualization, dashboarding, and data discovery. One of the reasons why it's gaining such popularity across many industries is because data can be added using any format—whether it's a simple spreadsheet or SQL based.

Tableau gives you visualizations and a better understanding of the meaning of your data without having to understand how to use a database and without having to write complex formulas in a spreadsheet. You go right to visualizing the data, spotting trends and profitable areas, allowing you to find new markets.

All Kinds of Data, Easily Managed.

The biggest benefit of Tableau is its universal data use. It supports everything, which is not an exaggeration. From simple spreadsheet data to anything within Microsoft Office or in the cloud and everything in between, including data for Oracle, SQL data, and Azure. 

As an instructor, I have taught these classes to all different industries and various branches. I've already gone through at least 19 major market sectors that are all using Tableau, some of which were surprising. Here are some industries that benefit from Tableau:

  • Aerospace
  • Defense
  • Banking Business Services
  • Technology
  • Insurance 
  • Manufacturing
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Securities & Investments
  • Transportation

One that definitely surprised me was logistics. But once I saw how they were using it, it made complete sense. They're looking at operational and financial data in a more manageable way, which is the main focus of Tableau and is also what makes it so adaptable to a variety of industries.

Tableau Training 

Our Tableau Fundamentals course picks up somewhat where a Microsoft Excel training course would leave off. So at the point where the class starts, people are aware of what Excel is, what kind of data it would need and how to input it. We launch Tableau from there and start with all the basic visualizations. Then we move on to doing complete story points and complete BI dashboards that are fully interactive against live data sources. As you might suspect, this course is a prerequisite for the Advanced.

In the Tableau Advanced course, we cover how to employ multiple data sources. We also get more advanced with analytics, including statistical analysis, forecasting analysis, etc. We push our students well past basic spreadsheet usage in this course and get into some fairly sophisticated analysis. This means that we're looking for an audience with a bit more experience using analytics, or who have taken Tableau Fundamentals, as well as Access level one or Excel level one.

The target audience for both of these Tableau courses are those that need a distinct separation between an in-depth graphic and a pie chart in Excel. New users will have no problem understanding how Tableau will work, and advanced users can benefit by having a better understanding of the traditional data holding software and how they can easily be inputted into Tableau. We're really trying to push people well past basic spreadsheet usage and into more sophisticated analysis without having to do a lot of the calculating, as you can see in the images below.

Before:

Excel Spreadsheet into Tableau Graphic

After:

Organized Data on Tableau


Some Closing Thoughts

A simple chart isn't going to be able to show what you're trying to say every single time, but a more detailed visual can. Specifically it shows people how certain conclusions were achieved and how improvements can be made from there. You need multiple visualizations for some projects and you have to be able to prove it, which means you have to drill backwards through the data to show your proof. Tableau makes it easier to do that, helping your business realize where it needs to improve to help bring continued success going forward.


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Brockway.jpgEric Brockway is a Technical Instructor and Consultant who joined New Horizons in 2011 and has been an educator and technologist for 24 years. An experienced technologist, he has worked in almost all areas of the computer field—from network administration, programming, web architectural design, support, and help desks. Through years of working as a consultant, as well as a trainer, Mr. Brockway brings the real world into the classroom to build upon textbook theory. He has worked directly with corporate business developers, and is as comfortable in the board room as he is in the data center or classroom.


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