2 minutes with… Emily Kund of National Bank

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Hello!

Here we go again! And they said it would never last! They said I’d amount to nothing! And here I am with top BI talent literally fighting to get a piece of “2 minutes with” action. Woah there guys – form an orderly queue. Especially you @pgilks – you’ve already had a go remember?

This time we extend a HUGE welcome to Emily Kund (@emily1852) a National Bank Examiner at the Office of the Controller of the Currency in Washington, D.C. The opinions expressed below are those of Emily and not her employer.

Quite simply – she’s mega! Our current favourite blog is a must read

VizNinja (VN): Hi Emily, how are you?

EK: Doing well, thanks for asking!

VN: So who are you then and what do you do?

kundEK: I’m Emily Kund. By day, I’m a National Bank Examiner turned Team Leader, responsible for reporting and analysis for a subsection of financial institutions, supervised by a bureau in the federal government.  By night, I try to be an awesome mom to two wonderful, smart, crazy kids; Alex (6) and Katie (3).

VN: How did you start using Tableau? And how are you using it now?

EK: I tinkered with it a few years ago, just to see what I could do, but didn’t have any formal Tableau projects.  Then, in 2012, I used it for my first project, which is now monitored by senior management! I guess it follows the saying, go big or go home! By the way, I had help from the Tableau guy in my office…that sucker was super complicated!! Now, I rarely develop visualizations for work. My role is to provide feedback on reports and analyses that the team produces and, along with folks in my division, develop and implement a reporting and analysis strategy.

VN: How have you seen Tableau make an impact on businesses?

EK: The biggest impact I’ve personally seen is that we are now exploring the data we have collected for so long.  Because it’s fast and easy to whip up a basic workbook, we have better insight into our data.  We can start asking questions about the data and refine our process for data collection and management.  Further, it’s been pretty awesome to see data sources to come together into one workbook and provide users the ability to see what’s going on, at an aggregate and detail level.

VN: Who do you learn from in the Tableau community?

EK: You’re gonna run out of space.  There are tons of people!!! I think the ones that immediately come to mind include:

Anya A’Hearn
Andy Cotgreave 
Kelly Martin
Andy Kriebel
Matt Francis
Jonathan Drummey
Jewel Loree
Peter Gilks
Paul Banoub..you know him?
Dan Murrray
Ramon Martinez
Ben Jones

Allan Walker

EK: Even though that seems like a long list, it’s really just scratching the surface. The Tableau community really is extraordinary. And if someone isn’t on the list, my apologies, I’ll buy them a beer at the customer appreciation party!

VN: In your opinion what should we be mindful of in the BI space going forward?

EK: This is my biggest thing…I think it needs to be easier to use the data.  Because my experience has been that the data hasn’t been gifted to me in just the right way, and I’m not a data person, that including the functionality in the tools to make it easier to work with the data will be huge! Tableau is making it easier for the user to blend data.  I think that is a super important path to continue down. I’m a really big believer into turning data into information and initiatives such as easier data blending should make it easier for anyone to do just that.

VN: Could you give me an interesting non-work fact about yourself?

kund2EK: I’m pretty random! In addition to loving makeup and reading, I enjoy a good game of (American) football!  My favorite team is the Washington Redskins, who had a terrible season this year! Hopefully they can turn it around over the next couple of years and get another Super Bowl ring at some point in the not too distant future.  A little trivia for ya…there are four teams in the NFC East (New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Dallas). Of those four, Philadelphia is the only team in the division to not win a Super Bowl! Of the other three teams, Washington has the fewest number of rings, totaling three. Oh, and I like working out–especially strength training. My most favorite exercise is the angled leg press, followed by squats, then single-leg deadlifts. Oh, and I like Wonder Woman…I have all kinds of Wonder Woman stuff in my office!

VN: Thanks for your time Emily!

EK: Thanks for having me. Hope to see you in Seattle!

Well that was a pleasure. Thanks so much to Emily for sparing the time.  Tune in next time for more words of wisdom from the BI community.

Regards, Paul

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tablogowl

Hello Tablovers,

It’s time for another edition of the Tableaudown. A casual look back at the BI and Tableau related posts, comments and vizzes that have impressed or enlightened us at VN towers. Hell they might even have made a grown ninja cry. This one looks back a couple of months so you might have seen some of the info, but maybe not.

Twitterati

  • @ChrisLuv – On a mission to show the power of Alteryx. Thanks for all the help with my Winter Olympics viz.
  • @Biff_Bruise & @pgilks – More great support and chat offline from you guys
  • @emily1852 – Love your blog Emily. Keep it going.
  • @MonaChalabi & @GuardianData – thanks for featuring my viz on the Guardian Data Blog!

Interesting Viz & Articles

Top Tips & Content

  • Cheers, Paul

Blog on…

So we’re 3 and a bit months in to this whole big, crazy blogging experiment.

I’ve still not quite figured out what this all means to me. You know – what it actually means to me as a person. To my career, to my family and to what I’m trying to do. The truth is I don’t really know what I’m trying to do, something that I was worried about initially. Surely I need a purpose, a strategy, dare I say it even a mission statement? That shit is essential isn’t it?

A few weeks ago I attended the Tableau Google Hangout, where several key bloggers (@vizwizbi, @pgilks, @dataremixed, @jeweloree, @vizbizwiz, @vizcandy ) hosted a session where they all discussed what blogging means to them, their approaches and other stuff around that subject. The key sentiment seemed to be that most of them started their blog for themselves, either as a kind of diary or repository of how they’ve accomplished BI related tasks. It seemed that they all had a fairly freestyle approach, with enjoyment being the key motivation. I expected they’d all be super serious and regimented in their blogging approach, I mean how else can they generate that brilliant content? That certainly wasn’t the vibe though. You know what – they’re just like you and I. They want people to like their stuff, they get a bit upset at the trolls and nasty people, and they all took ages to get started and build the confidence to be able to express themselves in public. And they all get a thrill when the community shows them some love for their content.

All this made me feel that hey I can succeed, and I do have something to offer. Tableau is such a big subject it’s impossible to be an expert on all areas. Pick your niche and be an expert on that, but do branch out and explore new avenues. Give your opinion, and enjoy giving credit when someone else does something superb.

I’ll be honest. I was bricking it when I decided to start this blog. It took me weeks to publish my first post, and then I sat glued to the page stats, praying for those numbers to start increasing. No-one’s gonna read this I thought. And if they do they’ll hate it. Then people did start reading it. And then I got a few Twitter followers. And then a few direct messages. And then some quite nice comments. Then some shout-outs from Tableau Zen Masters…. Hold on… What’s happening here? Then more followers….

So I posted some more, feeding off the feedback and love, growing in confidence all the time. And the hits kept coming.. Then I started getting asked to speak at conferences, and then a couple of job offers. The job offers were interesting, no interview – it was “I’ve seen your blog and I love it, you wanna come and work for me?”.

And that all fuels the fire. The more love you get back, the more enjoyable it gets. And the more enjoyable it is, the more the quality of content improves with your growing confidence. It’s kind of a non-vicious circle. Before I knew it the ideas for content came flooding into my head. I think my list is now over 100 items for future posts.

I’ve recently managed to meet up with a number of the community that I’d only interacted with online. And it felt strange. In a good way. It felt like I was interacting with a community of friends rather than a group of work colleagues. I’m staggered at the togetherness of the BI & Tableau community. To the point that when we did have a minor trolling incident, it came as a real shock to the system, such is the infrequency of encountering such attitudes. 

I’m stunned where I’ve managed to get to in 3 months. Ben Jones pinged me a message saying that if anyone had dropped out of the Google Hangout then I was in line to replace them. That was some compliment. 

I’ve been wondering how to quantify just how much I’m having fun. I guess there are a couple of moments that give me that answer.

The first was a comment one evening from my wife, who remarked “I’ve not seen you this passionate about work in 10 years”. – “Quiet love, I’m about to publish a viz of the best pinball tables!” may have been my reply, but the comment was appreciated anyway. 

And the second was the shoulder surgery that I had a few weeks ago. Now I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to, well when it comes to people slicing me open with a knife! – cos that’s what it is. So I was more than a little apprehensive about the procedure. But when it came to game time my only worry was that I wouldn’t be able to use Tableau for a few days! It really was. And to keep myself occupied in hospital I took along a copy of Dan Murray’s book. You can keep the man away from Tableau, but you can’t keep Tableau away from the man. Or something like that.

That told me I was onto something really special here and long may it continue.

Regards, Paul

How to: To Boldly Go – A History of the Space Shuttle

makingof

Hi all,

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. DA DA DA, DA DA DA DA DAAAAAAAAA!

Now I’m no Trekkie, but I do love a bit of space action. And I remember rushing home from school early as a misty-eyed 9-year-old to watch the first launch of the Space Shuttle.

space-shuttle-atlantis_1223_600x450The Space Shuttle programme should rank as one of mankind’s greatest technological achievements. Over 130 missions across 20 years, to the point where a launch was completely routine and barely a newsworthy item. Incredible. And even more so when you look at the technology itself. Old and creaky by the time the programme ended, but it still worked.

I was pretty sad when the programme came to an end a couple of years ago. So I thought I’d relive the excitement by vizzing up some of the mission data.

And here it is!

shuttleviz

So how’d I do this?

1. Data

wikiI got the data from 2 sources. First off was a nice list of all the missions, dates and other data from Wikipedia. Columnar, consistent and easy to chuck into Excel.

The only issue with this data was that there were surely a load more measures of interest for each mission. Duration of mission was interesting and would make a good measure to viz, but what else could I find?

nasapdfThat brings me to the second data source. This excellent pdf from NASA details all the shuttle missions and crucially adds a couple more cool measures – namely distance travelled in miles and total orbits of the Earth.

Problem was that this was pdf and I couldn’t get to the text easily. To get around that issue I used this Mac automator guide to extract the raw text from the pdf into a text file. Then I used a quick bash script to return just the 2 measures I was interested in, in a columnar format that I could paste into excel alongside the existing measures from Wikipedia. I could have used Alteryx for that also.

So how’d I do this?

2. Viz design

Timeline – I wanted to show a year on year timeline of the mission launches, broken down by shuttle and also to have one of the measures on there as well so I could pull some trends. That was easy enough, and I wanted to use a shuttle shape to act as one of the points.

shuttlelcipI had to download a simple shape and then make the background transparent so that I could further differentiate using colour. The end result looks a bit cluttered when all missions/years/shuttles are selected, but is still okay for analysis. 

E.g. I can see from the timeline how missions started short, then gradually got longer as the programme progressed. You can also see the gaps in the programme after the 2 shuttle crashes in 1986 & 2003. You can also see how each Shuttle had a different usage profile, something that I expanded on with the box & whisker plot.

Images – Yet again I followed Shawn Wallwork’s tip for dynamically assigning images. I downloaded each mission patch image and then assigned it to the appropriate point on the timeline. The image is then displayed when the user hovers the mouse over the shuttle shape. Took me ages to assign them all so you’d better appreciate it.

Shuttle Stats – Simple bar chart view of the key measures. I’ve used the average of the values to colour the bars.

shuttlestatsYou can see from this that although Discovery and Atlantis got the most missions, Endeavour and Colombia did more miles per mission on average than the others.

Box & Whisker Plot – First time I’ve used one of these. Seems to work nicely, giving an indication of the different usage profiles of each shuttle and the spread of mission distances. You can see how Endeavour was used primarily as a long haul shuttle, whereas Columbia’s mission distance spread is much greater, being used as a total all-rounder. A really effective view. Let me know what you think.

Look and Feel – Now I really wanted this to look Nasa-esque, and I managed to find the NASA font for download. Here it is. 

I’m sure you agree it makes the viz look good. But there’s a problem. For anyone to get the same effect they need to install the font or it will default to one of the regular fonts and the effect will be lost. To get around this all the titles in this viz are actually small images. A bit of a pain to do but I can see that technique becoming something I’ll use a lot.

3. Final Thoughts

Hope you like this viz. I had a lot of fun doing it, in particular browsing through the NASA catalogue of images from various missions. Some spectacular photos out there.

But we all know that all this progress wasn’t without pain. So I’d like to end with the following dedication.

This viz is dedicated to the astronauts that lost their lives during the Space Shuttle programme.

STS-151-L – 28th Jan 1986
Greg Jarvis,, Christa MCauliffe, Ronald Mcnair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee

Challenger_flight_51-l_crew

STS-107 – 1st Feb 2003

Rick D. Husband, William MCcool, Michael P. Anderson, David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel B. Clark, Ilan Ramon

030201-F-9999G-001

Regards, Paul

2 minutes with… David Napoli of Colorado HealthOP

2 mins with title2

Hello! I trust you’ve all had a good week so far. Time to continue our series of interviews. Hope you’re enjoying them so far. We’re staying stateside for this one and it’s my pleasure to speak to one of the more active tweeters in the BI space and someone who writes from the heart.

That man is David Napoli (@Biff_Bruise) of Colorado HealthOP in Thornton, Colorado, USA.

coloradoColorado HealthOP is Colorado’s first statewide nonprofit health insurance cooperative (CO-OP). Colorado HealthOP was established in response to the growing demand for feasible, affordable healthcare for individuals and small businesses throughout the Rocky Mountain region.

VizNinja (VN): Hi David, how are you?

IMG_2624David Napoli (DN): My alarm goes off at 4 am … that in and of itself should give you the answer. And just to be clear, tired is the answer – but I’m ready to give it my best, as always.

VN: So who are you then and what do you do?

DN: David Napoli, Dad and husband. What I do is always be present for my family and do what I can to add happiness to their lives. I just happen to assist in keeping the roof over our heads through my role as the Director of Performance Improvement and Strategic Analytics for Colorado HealthOP.

VN: How do you use Tableau at your place?

DN: As I came on board with Colorado HealthOP two months ago – mid October 2013 – and the organization itself has existed only for the better part of a year (we are a new nonprofit health insurance cooperative that was allowed for through the Affordable Care Act), analytics and the BI environment are in their infancy. Part of my new role is developing the company-wide analytics business plan and following through with the implementation of a select ‘BI suite’ of tools … of which Tableau and its data visualization/discovery/storytelling capabilities being aspects I wish to leverage to their full extent.

VN: What has the impact been on your business?

DN: I can only approach this question from the position of what I hope the impact will be to my business – and I hope that will be an improved quality of life for Coloradans, specifically the people who choose to become members in our health insurance co-op. What I envision is for Tableau to facilitate the exploration of the well-being of our members, the identification of Communities of Solution, the establishment of explanatory analytics around cost and quality transparency, and for Colorado HealthOP to become the spearhead in health care data visualization and storytelling of communities and members. That’s all. 🙂

VN: Who do you learn from in the Tableau community?

DN: Well, above everyone else, there’s this Paul fellow… 😉

I am beyond grateful for the insights that many individuals have shared and continue to share on Twitter, through their own blogs, discussions, and collective knowledge. I appreciatively stand on the shoulders of giants, and I retweet them in mass quantities to show my utmost respect – and frankly awe they have the determination to share, above and beyond their respective responsibilities. If I’m not running between work and my kiddo’s hockey and baseball practices, I don’t know where that time comes from.

VN: In your opinion what should we be mindful of in the BI space going forward?

DN: Above all else, please, PLEASE do not lose focus on the motivating reason – the purpose – of whatever the analytic/BI effort happens to be. One can get tunnel vision on specific facets of an exploratory or explanatory journey, such as the latest visualization technique – “I must do a slopegraph!” – or design – “I’ll put together a trellis-based dashboard with *100* graphs on one screen!” – but the mission of the individual/group/organization must be preserved and for whom the BI effort is performed – members, providers, and the health care community in my instance – must be encapsulated throughout every analytic undertaking. Also, slopegraphs *are* cool.

VN: Could you give me an interesting non-work fact about yourself?

DN: I am an avid road cyclist. I’ve ridden Ride the Rockies ten times since I moved to Colorado in 1996… and some day that hockey and baseball playing kiddo I mentioned above will probably trounce me up one of the climbs on that ride, and I will be the happiest person on the planet when that occurs.

VN: Thanks for your time David, see you soon.

DN: Thank you for this opportunity to share – I greatly appreciate it.

Okay that’s it for another episode. Tune in next time for more BI and Tableau adventures.  And hey – let’s be careful out there….

Regards, Paul

Quizzical Vizzical

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Let’s get vizzical, vizzical! I wanna get vizzical! I think that’s how the song goes anyway.

logo_optaSome of you may know a company called Opta. They’re the leading provider of sport data in Britain and provide feeds to just about everyone, including major broadcasters, sporting clubs and governing bodies. What they don’t know about data isn’t worth knowing.

optaquizAnyway, I know what goes on there as my brother Simon is their Director of Marketing. And one of their main industry events is a twice a year football quiz event where they invite all the big players from media, online, broadcast and other experts to get together and battle it out. The questions are ultra-fiendish and the competition fiercely fought. It’s a very popular event.

So my task was to viz up the results from the last quiz and see if we can infer some trends and have a bit of fun.

And here it is. The 4th OptaJoe Football Quiz results viz.

optaviz

So how’d I do this?

1. Data

For a change this was the easy bit! A spreadsheet of questions, teams and the scores for each team. I used a very simple Alteryx module to transpose the data into the correct format, but that was a 2 minute job.

That gave me a data structure like this. Perfect for Tableau.

datasheet

2. Viz design

This was the hard bit. I needed this to be clear, accurate and look smart. Opta plan on using this viz as part of the promotional material for their next quiz so it needed to be spot on.

Top Panel – I usually put the focus of the viz in this area. And the focus is obviously the result. I used one of my favourite views, the dual axis bar chart with shape terminator to show the results.

Bottom Left – I wanted to show how the standings were fluctuating as the rounds went on. For example, did Sky Sports run away with it, or did the lead change hands multiple times? Who finished strongly and who faded at the finish line? Did that with a simple line chart. Not so effective with all the teams selected but as with many views, very effective when only a subset is selected.

Bottom Right – Now I love this view. This is a matrix using the rank calculation to show how each team ranked per round. It works great with the colour coding and allows you to easily see the teams that were constantly good or bad. It also adds an element of colour to the viz.

rankTake The Guardian for example, who clearly would have won the quiz but for a terrible round midway though the event where they ranked 17th.

You can also see how some teams actually won a couple of rounds, like the Mirror, but also had some shockers that cost them a decent overall finish.

Font – Now Opta have a very well defined brand identity, and part of that brand is the typeface they use. I managed to identify it as “Chalet Paris NineteenSeventy“, which was as close as I could get to their font. I managed to download this font and install, which allowed me to select it as one of the usable fonts in Tableau. Unfortunately I got inconsistent behaviour when publishing to Tableau Public so the end result isnt as good as I would have liked. Any report consumer would also have to have that font installed to get the full effect.

You can go grab the font from here if you want.

Filtering – The chosen filtering was determined by the intended use of this viz. For example, this viz is likely to be shared amongst the teams to generate banter and a bit of a laugh at how well / badly one team has performed against one of their industry rivals. So I decided to group up the teams by industry sector, to allow a direct comparison within a couple of clicks.

filteredviz

Take this example of the viz filtered to show just the TV companies taking place. You can see the final outcome, round by round progress and comparative rankings per round. It’s even better when you clear the round selector and iterate through the rounds, effectively replaying the quiz from the start. Very cool.

So there you have it. I’m well pleased with this one. I’ve never tried to vizualise quiz results before and I think this format works well. It’s a good example of the viz design being heavily influenced by the audience and what I imagined they’d do with the viz in terms of generating banter, chat and competition in the pub.

For more information on the OptaJoe Football Quiz, here’s their live blog from the event. And here’s some more info on the participants.

Oh and if you think you can do better than some of the teams then here are the questions. Good luck!

Questions 1st half

Questions 2nd half

Regards, Paul