The power tool of the digital analyst
Updated May 24, 2016

The power tool of the digital analyst

Stéphane Hamel | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Tableau Desktop

Tableau has become the Swiss knife of the power analyst. So much that I don't do anything in Excel anymore because I always ended up working in Tableau anyway.

Under the definition of Big Data in the recently published book entitled "The Devil's Data Dictionary" by Jim Sterne I'm quoted for the simplest definition of Big Data ever: "That which does not fit into an Excel spreadsheet" (Twitter, circa 2013)

That's a key aspect - Tableau forces you to think differently, address the problem in a new way, and makes it easy and efficient to slice & dice the data at will.

  • Slicing & dicing of data
  • Visualization
  • Ease of connectivity to Google Analytics (but always has a downside, see "Cons")
  • Ease of connectivity to dispersed data sources
  • The Google Analytics connector still needs an "advanced mode" where we would paste our own API request. The dumb-proofed interface turns out to be limiting for advanced users (doesn't allow dynamic segments, sometimes lag behind the official API).
  • Data blending between dispersed data sources is often confusing and limiting.
  • A built-in data-transformation step would be absolutely awesome - I often have to use an ETL (Extract/Transform/Load) tool to prep the data.
I haven't used other tools for a number of years - when I made the selection my criteria were ease of use (including, slicing & dicing data at will), connectivity to various data sources (especially REST API - which Tableau doesn't support natively but now has a way to use through the Web Data Connector). An element that is often overlooked is the ecosystem: other services or tools complementing & extending Tableau, the support community, training opportunities, books and even the availability of skilled resources in the field. And finally, price was a factor.
In some cases I use Klipfolio as an alternative to Tableau dashboards. I see it as a matter of "fit to task" and data-maturity. Sometimes Tableau dashboards are just overkill for building nice-looking, simple dashboards where my client doesn't need too much controls (i.e. no highlighting or segmentation at will).
I see Tableau as answering two very different needs:

  • Day-to-day slicing, dicing, exploration, visualization of data - for me this is by far the most powerful approach.
  • Creating powerful dashboards - from the simplest to the most advanced dashboards, you can use Tableau (with the free reader or through Tableau Server) to empower business users with control over filtering and segmentation of the data.
I would also add the evaluation version, or Tableau Public, are excellent ways to get going and learn about the tool. The community is strong and active with plenty of help and examples.

Tableau Desktop Feature Ratings

Pixel Perfect reports
Customizable dashboards
Report Formatting Templates
Drill-down analysis
Formatting capabilities
Integration with R or other statistical packages
Report sharing and collaboration
Publish to Web
Publish to PDF
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.)
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization
Predictive Analytics

Tableau Desktop Implementation

Tableau Desktop is super easy to install, either on Windows or Mac.