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Posts Tagged ‘BusinessIntelligence’

Making Dashboards Relevant

March 11th, 2014 Comments off

Recently I’ve seen a lot of sexy dashboards created in Tableau, doing some very cool things. It got me thinking, these look great but actually they’re useless, the report users would look at them once, think “wow”, and then never use them again as they’re not providing any useful information.

If you’re building reports remember why you’re doing it – to provide meaningful and actionable information, and supplying the information in as few clicks as possible to the user. Don’t make your reports like an Aston Martin without an engine – i.e. looks great but not useful for the main requirement it needs to meet. If you can make dashboard sexy that’s great but remember the main purpose of the report is information supply.

Starting out with Alteryx

January 27th, 2014 No comments

With all of the buzz around Alteryx currently I’ve decided to try and learn to use it in my spare time. In my day job the current project I’m working on doesn’t include any Tableau or Alteryx unfortunately so I will be doing this in my spare time (which is currently very limited…) and hopefully will find some nice ‘real world’ challenges on which to test it out.

Initial thoughts on Alteryx are that it should make combining multiple disparate data sources far quicker and easier than building out a SQL database as I currently would do. It’ll be interesting to see if this actually works in practice as in the real world some of the data sets can contain some nasty data that needs to be cleaned up. It also appears at first glance that some knowledge of how databases work, how to join data, etc, is required to make good use of the Join tools within Alteryx.

Also predictive analytics looks far simpler. I currently have a very basic knowledge of R and am hoping Alteryx will mean I don’t need to learn more R as I’ll be able to use Alteryx instead.

To begin I downloaded Alteryx Project Edition
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Once installed when Alteryx is opened a pop up screen appears containing some basic tutorials (click on Open Tutorials) which I have run through as my basic training.

Alteryx Splash Screen

Next I plan to track down some real world cases where I could have used Alteryx and give it a better run out.

Keep an aggregation static and unaffected by Filter in Tableau

February 10th, 2013 No comments

A question I’ve seen asked many times in different guises is how to keep an aggregation static and unaffected by filters for comparison purposes in Tableau.  Dependent on the circumstances of how the data is set up in the background and how the visualisation needs to be filtered is how the solution is derived. Unfortunately I can’t be clearer than that, as everybody who’s familiar with Tableau knows every solution is different – and there are often multiple techniques available to reach the same goal.

In this post I’m going to detail what I feel is the simplest way to do a comparison of individual values against an aggregated value – for example how an individual stores sales compare against a group average, or how a regions new business leads compare against the entire country.

The key to this is to have the aggregation not affected by the filtering to allow for comparison. Read more…

Tableau Dimensions as Columns in a Table

December 18th, 2012 7 comments

If you have created tables in Tableau you might have noticed once you get to a six dimension columns  in the table the left hand columns begin to merge into one column. This only happens when using dimensions as column headers, not measures as when displaying multiple measures in a table this can be achieved by putting only 1 pill, the Measure Names, on the shelf. If you want to know how to add measures read my article describing how to display multiple measures in a table.

Tableau is not really designed for showing tabular data but sometimes it’s useful to show line item data as part of a drill down in a table, or perhaps you need to create a report specifically with the purpose of exporting Tableau to Excel. Read more…

Tableau Dynamic Sorting

May 28th, 2012 19 comments

Recently I created a tabular report where it was a requirement for the user to be able to sort the list by all of the different measure columns. I generally publish my reports on to Tableau Server where sorting is easy by using the Tableau toolbar but I wanted to see how to do this without using the toolbar.

I began to think about ways to do this using parameters and calculated fields as a Dimension has the option of Sort By Field. Luckily I didn’t have to think to hard about how to do this as I stumbled across a blog post which describes how to set up dynamic sorting with Tableau. I slightly modified the more complicated of the 2 techniques described in that article, which I describe here.

For this example I’m going to use the Superstore Sales sample data Tableau provide and create a table showing the Customer State on the rows and the measure values Profit, Profit Ratio and Sales in the columns. If unsure how to do this check my other post on displaying data in tableau as a table. Read more…

Tableau 6 Data Blending With Dates

May 10th, 2012 10 comments

I’ve just had a frustrating hour trying to work out why my attempts to blend data between an Excel file and a data extract wasn’t working. I was trying to blend on 2 fields – a text field called Metric, with the same field name in both datasets, and a date field called Date in the spreadsheet and InvoiceDate in the extract.

Tableau was clever enough to join the Metric fields automatically but I had problems joining the Date fields. I thought it would be a simple telling Tableau to join where Date = InvoiceDate but unfortunately there were a few more steps involved. Read more…

Info About Extracts on Tableau Server 6

May 3rd, 2012 No comments

My current employer is still using Tableau Server 6.1 – or 6.1.6 to be precise. I’ve been trying to work out how the extracts work when pulling from a SQL Server so the same extract can be shared by multiple dashboards. The reason for this is that some of my extracts take a long time to update which is not ideal when the same extract is used in multiple dashboards and instead of refreshing it multiple times for each dashboard it would be more efficient to update just once and all dashboards using it will be updated together.

What I was wondering was if when you connect to a data extract in Tableau is whether the published extract is updated when any dashboard based on this extract is updated. It seems this isn’t the case. Once the extract is published it remains as it was a publication time for all time I believe. It appears that when you connect to that extract and publish the workbook Tableau actually duplicates the extract and updates this duplicate whenever the dashboard is updated. In other words the extract published individually to the server doesn’t alter but the duplicate Tableau made embedded in the dashboard does update. Read more…

Build a hierarchy in Tableau

March 13th, 2012 No comments

One of the most useful things for me in Tableau is the ability to create a hierarchy in a few seconds. I have used this for building product hierarchies – i.e. product category, subcategory, group, etc – and also for reporting on regional data – i.e. Country, State, County, City, etc, which is great for using on maps (assuming you have a longitude and latitude at the bottom of the hierarchy). Read more…

Waterfall Charts in Tableau

March 8th, 2012 No comments

I’ve noticed waterfall charts are becoming quite fashionable now. If you’re not sure why this is used, it’s a great way, for example,  of showing how total revenue is compiled from it’s components. Using the Tableau Gantt Chart it’s quite simple to build. In this article I’ll give a very quick guide to building your own such as the chart below.


Read more…

Improve Your Tableau Dashboard Performance

February 29th, 2012 1 comment

I’ve faced a number of issues recently with Tableau report performance not being as good as required. This article is my attempt to combine the different ways to improve the speed I’ve learnt from other sources. The intention is to update this as I learn new techniques to achieve better performing Tableau reports. Read more…