Organizations, small and large, carry out several processes or transactions which will result in generating humongous data. The data that is being generated nowadays is not only complicated but also difficult for a person to understand directly. But it holds valuable information which could help improve business. So, how do we really read the data? How do we make it understandable without confusing the viewers? Reports are a great way to convey the message you want to tell the viewers artistically. Processing the data in time and proper reporting enhances the ability to make more informed and data-driven decisions. That’s where the Business Intelligence tools come into the picture and help us explore data in meaningful ways. Tableau is one of the most commonly used Business Intelligence tools. In this post, we will explain what Tableau is and how it works. You can also get to know how to create reports in Tableau.
Tableau is a reporting and data visualization tool. It simplifies data and makes it easier to explore hidden insights from raw data. So, technical and non-technical users can easily understand. It was originally developed as part of a computer science project at Stanford in the year 2003. They aim to improve the flow of analysis. Chris Stolte, Pat Hanrahan, and Christian Chabot are the co-founders of this tool. It was later acquired by Salesforce in 2019.
It employs a drag and drops functionality through which users can drop actions into data queries. Tableau has smart data preparation tools that help in preparing the data effectively. It also includes machine learning, statistics, and natural language. Tableau provides visualizations in the form of worksheets and dashboards. It provides real-time data analysis.
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Tableau can connect to any data sources like Oracle, SQL Server, PDF, Excel, etc. It can also connect to cloud data sources like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure SQL, Google Cloud SQL database, Salesforce, and many more. When the Tableau tool is launched, it provides native connectors to connect to any database. The connectors are limited to Tableau versions, which means the number of connectors will be dependent on the version that you have purchased.
Once the connection is successful to the data source, the data can be imported to the Tableau Desktop, or it can stream data live. The actions are available as drag and drops where we can drag the columns that we want on to X and Y axes. Once the visualizations are created, the dashboards can be published to share them among peers. The shared dashboards can be viewed through desktop, mobile, etc.
Tableau offers services through five tools.
Out of these 5, Tableau Desktop Tableau Prep, and Tableau Public can be considered as developer tools. Tableau Online, Tableau Server can be considered as sharing tools.
It can connect to data on-prem or on the cloud. We can combine data from disparate sources without writing a single line of code. It provides an interactive UI through which users can create reports, charts, and combine them to make a dashboard. It provides built-in postal codes for putting your data on a map. We can create live stories that can be shared across the board.
It can extract huge amounts of data in seconds. The extracted data is accessible through the UI for analyzing. The dashboards created can be optimized for desktop, tablet, and phone with the help of the Device designer.
Tableau Server can share the dashboards or reports across the organization. It provides a trusted environment such that the data and reports are governed and secure. The dashboards published through Tableau Desktop will be accessible through Tableau Server. Users who have access to Tableau Server can explore the published data sources and ask questions using natural language. Tableau uses powerful algorithms to profile indexes through Ask Data. It returns the results in the form of visualizations.
Tableau Server also empowers an AI-based statistical model called Explain Data, which helps in uncovering deep insights from the data. We can even manage the security rules on our published sources. It can also integrate with existing security protocols. The Tableau Server can be installed on-prem on Windows or Linux. It can also be deployed on AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform.
Tableau Online is a fully hosted reporting solution. So, the IT team doesn't have to worry about configuring servers, upgrades, etc. The servers will be maintained by Tableau group. Users can be easily added to it and the dashboard can be shared with anyone. Users can interact with it through a web browser or a mobile app.
Users can drill-down the dashboards and filter through data. Tableau Online provides web editing and new workbooks creation from the published data. We can use tableau Bridge to perform data refreshes for data located on-premises. The reports on Tableau Online can be integrated to any application easily.
Tableau prep is an intelligent data preparation tool. It provides a visual way to clean data and perform analysis on it. It is categorized into two products.
Tableau Prep provides three coordinated views that show row-level data, column profiles, and data preparation process. You can get a complete view of the data source. You can even edit the data, perform joins, and see the results instantly. The data preparation steps are displayed in a visual diagram. The steps can be re-ordered according to individual preference.
It employs a fuzzy clustering feature that converts repetitive tasks to one-click operations. The data sources can be on-premise or on the cloud. We can clean data without writing any code. The output can be easily opened with Tableau Desktop with just a click. We can even share the results through Tableau Server or Tableau Online.
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The flows generated in Prep Builder can be published to the server environment using the Tableau Prep Conductor. We can schedule to run the flows at a specified time. We can monitor all the flows and look at the health of flows. It can also send proactive alerts if there are any issues found in the health of your flows.
Tableau Public is a free version of Tableau software. Any dashboards that we create here should be saved to the public cloud for anyone to access. We cannot save the workbooks locally. The visualizations on the Tableau Public can be integrated into web pages and blogs. They can also be sent to anyone through email.
People who want to share their work with the world can publish their visualizations to Tableau Public. They can also connect with other authors.
Here are the advantages that Tableau provides.
Tableau does have some limitations.
Open your Tableau Desktop, and click on 'Microsoft Excel' under the 'Connect' section. Upload the Excel data file from your computer. Once the data is imported, it will show the data in the form of tables. Select the data fields from your data pane, drag and drop the fields on to the columns and rows of the worksheet. It will show the data in a table view.
Once all the columns and rows are added, click on the 'Show Me' button at the top right corner. A drop-down with available charts will get displayed. The charts that suit your data will be enabled by Tableau, and the rest will be greyed out. When you select a chart, the table will automatically get converted into a chart.
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If you want to share your workbook, make sure that you are logged in to either Tableau Server or Tableau Online. Open your workbook in Tableau Desktop and click on the 'Share' button in the toolbar. A 'Publish Workbook' dialog box appears. Select the project that you want to publish to and give a name for the workbook. If you want to set a password for the workbook, select the 'Embed Password' for the 'Authentication' field. If you want anyone with the link to access your workbook, select 'Allow refresh access' for the 'Authentication' field. Click on 'Publish' to publish your workbook.
Tableau is one of the most powerful data visualization tools in the market. it offers 5 different solutions. Pick the solution that fits your needs and start experimenting on your data with it. It provides native connectors for SAP HANA, Hive, Splunk, etc., to access data. Businesses of industries like healthcare, manufacturing, marketing, education, insurance, and others have already implemented Tableau. Verizon, Lenovo, Red Hat, Lufthansa, Nissan, Chipotle are some of the biggest customers of Tableau.
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