Falling for Data at Tableau Conference 2014

September 25, 2014
All Data, All the time

ROI·DNA joined 5,500 data-lovers at this year’s Tableau Conference in Seattle, where we took a look at what’s next in business intelligence and heard some insightful speakers on data integrity, visualization, and analysis.

What is Tableau, you ask?

Tableau is a business intelligence and analytics platform that helps you visualize and understand data. You can put any data into Tableau, manually or automatically, then generate reports, segment it for cross-referencing, and visualize it in various ways. It makes it easy to pull all the data that’s stuck inside your different tools and interfaces, and get a deeper view of it as a whole.

Things we learned

Data is ubiquitous. According to the IDC, the “digital universe” will grow by a factor of 300 – from 130 exabytes to 40,000 exabytes (40 trillion gigabytes) – from 2005 to 2020. The digital marketing space, where almost every online interaction is measurable, is at the front and center of that expanding digital universe.

So how do you handle all that data? A few interweaving messages emerged.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” highlighted the importance of understanding data and communicating it accurately. One of his most poignant examples of data misrepresentation was the “super moon.”

The “super moon,” touted as a great phenomenon of fall, is a mere inch larger than a typical full moon. To quote Neil deGrasse Tyson’s tweet on the subject: “July’s full moon is to August’s “Super Moon” what a 16.0 inch pizza is to a 16.1 inch pizza.” Sounds delicious.

Dr. Hans Rosling, data visionary, creator of the famous motion graph, and founder of the Gapminder Foundation, focused on the importance of visualizing complex data simply, so that viewers can accurately understand it. He also highlighted the importance of iteration when visualizing data – successfully capturing the implications of the data requires a bit of artistry and experimentation.

Michael Lewis, best-selling author of “Liar’s Poker,” “Moneyball,” and “The Blind Side,” spoke about finding the stories in data, and communicating them in a way that “your mother is able to understand.In highly jargonized industries, the most effective communicators are the ones who break down complex concepts into basic narratives, and visually share that story in a simple but powerful way.

You can check out some of the keynote speakers here.

A deeper look at Tableau

Tableau lets you discover the story in your data far more quickly than traditional reporting tools, which typically only offer a two-dimensional view with an x-axis and y-axis. Tableau is designed to encourage experimentation, allowing you to nimbly visualize your data to convey meaningful stories.

The dashboards are highly interactive, and offer a variety of ways to depict performance measures that go beyond pie, bar, and line charts. You can explore your data by manipulating chart images, colors, brightness, sizes, shapes, and the motion of visual objects – all representing the dataset you’re analyzing.

Imagine your data conveyed like this!

Blog Post - Data Viz - Tableau



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