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Tableau Server Review: "Tableau is the centerpiece of our Business Analytics." ServerUnspecified8.2633101
Don Babcock profile photo
August 10, 2018

Tableau Server Review: "Tableau is the centerpiece of our Business Analytics."

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Overall Satisfaction with Tableau Server

Tableau Server is being used across our entire enterprise as the primary vehicle for the dissemination of business analytics (BA). In particular, it enables end-user/department "self-service" in terms of reporting. It also works very well for embedding BA in mobile enterprise applications (iPhone-iPad.)
  • Self service publishing - Before Tableau Server, most reporting was done by central report writers on a request basis, and the backlog never ended. Now a great deal of the reporting is "self service" within the departments, freeing IT Business Intelligence (BI) staff to focus on the reporting tasks requiring more expertise.
  • It is VERY easy for folks to publish their creations from Tableau Desktop directly to Tableau Server.
  • Starting with "template" projects, many users don't have to have Tableau Desktop but can simply "clone" the template (data connections "baked in") and create new dashboards with nothing more than their browser. This is very cost effective.
  • We have created several Enterprise Mobile Applications for iPhones/iPads and it is very easy to integrate analytics provided by Tableau Server into our custom in-house applications. This GREATLY simplifies the development of sophisticated mobile BA tools.
  • They are already moving toward not requiring any special desktop software to create dashboards from scratch. It will be nice when they finally get there. The biggest hassle we have with getting new Tableau users installed is that Tableau Desktop requires Admin rights on the PC to install. We don't generally allow that, so end users have to get PC support staff involved to do that installation. All of that goes away when Web UI users of Tableau Server can do everything folks with Tableau Desktop can do in terms of creating new projects from scratch.
  • Tableau Server could be "Dockerized" allowing easier installation. Containerization is the wave of the future as opposed to "Full Stack" installations.
  • Without question it has helped us make information that was "invisible" or hard to fathom much more accessible to those that need it to run our business. To that end, it is helping us zero in on many cost avoidance issues which were not surfaced before the advent of Tableau Analytics.
It is being used with data from ServiceNow to get a handle on what we are doing and how long it takes to provide a quantitative foundation for effort management/project prioritization.

Tableau analytics are revealing many previously "hidden" costs or service deficiencies so that they can be effectively eliminated or improved.
The granularity actually exceeds our needs. It can be a bit overwhelming when first encountered by those designated as departmental site administrators. However, Tableau has done an excellent job of assigning some "default" roles that cover the majority of the cases. So the bottom line is that "newbies" can be productive and secure with just a few predefined roles, but if you need to get down into the weeds and fine tune permissions, that capability is there for power users.
We are primarily SQL Server, Oracle, and Postgres. It does ALL of those well. The one thing I'd like to see that isn't really "there" yet is the ability to use REST API based datasources. That's harder because every API is different. However, most provide JSON/XML data once you've gotten connected and that should be readily consumable as a data source. Perhaps the ability to consume a Swagger/OpenAPI definition for an API and use that for schema info for associated JSON data. The hard part would be handling the authentication. The url would be straight forward. Perhaps they could take a page from tools like Postman.
It's good. It's like publishing research papers. There is only ONE primary (first) author. This is the OWNER in Tableau terms. You can have any number of secondary authors but at the end of the day it's the OWNER that rules absolutely. I also like the option to manage permissions by workbook or by project (i.e. all objects in a project folder have permissions assigned to the folder regardless of how published).
The online training is good and I ran a user group in-house for a year. The first place we'd send new users is to the beginner tutorials on Tableau. After that, we only had to "fine tune" things to suit our particular enterprise style.
It is great for Business Intelligence/Business Analytic reporting. It is far better than using something like Excel and much easier to use. We have had some issues with folks with a long history of spreadsheet reporting having difficulty making the transition to a different paradigm, but that's not really a fault of Tableau. It's more of a situation where folks have been using a "hammer" (Excel) for so long that they want everything to look like a "nail." Once they make the transition, however, they never want to go back.

Tableau Server Feature Ratings

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
Report Versioning
Report Delivery Scheduling
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.)
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization
Predictive Analytics
Multi-User Support (named login)
Role-Based Security Model
Multiple Access Permission Levels (Create, Read, Delete)
Single Sign-On (SSO)
Responsive Design for Web Access
Dedicated iOS Application
Dedicated Android Application
Dashboard / Report / Visualization Interactivity on Mobile
Javascript API