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

2 minutes with… Kelly Martin of VizCandy

2 mins with title2

Hello everyone. I hope you’re doing well. Time for another episode in the top-rated, some say premier, some say foremost interview show on the web.

And this is a bit of an OMG moment for us here at Ninja Towers, for we are proud to welcome our first Tableau Zen Master to the show.

kellyIt’s the fabulous Kelly Martin (@vizcandykelly)! This is a real pleasure for us here. Kelly has been a tremendous help to me behind the scenes of this blog, offering continuous support and expertise as I’m sure she has been to many of you reading this. She was the original inspiration for me to begin expressing myself in the BI space, and I’m sure has done the same for numerous others.


VizNinja (VN): Thrilled to speak to you, how are you doing?

KM: Pretty good, although I could afford to lose a few pounds and I’m having a bad hair day.  Too much information?  Careful with those open-ended questions.

VN: How do you use Tableau at your organization?

KM: I am the whole organization @ VizCandy.  It’s just me and the cat, and she’s not much help.  I use Tableau all the time, exclusively.  I don’t think I’ve made an Excel chart in 3 years.  My focus is dashboard design, so that’s what I do for people – build them great dashboards in Tableau.

VN: What has the impact been on your business?

KM: I have been doing contract work off and on for 10 years while having a full-time position in different organizations.  Tableau has enabled me to go full-time contract – that’s the business side.  On the personal side, it has made me a happy analyst.

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

KM: Wow.  That’s a long list and constantly growing.  There’s all the bloggers (pretty thorough list on Ramon’s site), then there’s the hundreds of tweeters,  Viz of the Day, and the Community Forums.  I check out the questions on the forums regularly.  I’m not very good at helping people in that format (I don’t usually understand their question or problem), but I learn a great deal from the help other people provide.  Sometimes I just go to Shawn Wallwork’s  activity to read through the questions and answers.

I will say that there was one blog post by Steve Wexler ‘Hey, Your Tableau Public Viz is Ugly *and* Confusing’, that had the most impact on my work.  When Steve first published this I thought he was directing it at me.  It felt personal because I was guilty of many of the bad actions he was describing.  After my internal defensive hissy, I worked at improving my design skills and I often present his post when talking to people about designing dashboards.

I love this blog as well, it’s fun and insightful.

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

KM: In my experience, BI is usually a small team within IT which wrangles data sources into warehouses (or marts) and builds dashboards, which the majority of the organization uses to download data into Excel in order to conduct analysis relevant to their subject area or business segment/department.

IT used to be besieged with requests to ‘Just give me access to the data’ and the same thing is pretty common now with BI. Some organizations have put BI teams into Finance, Operations, or Marketing, etc., but the majority of analysis within those departments is still conducted by the Excel analysts not in the BI team.  High level KPI dashboards and scorecards built with complex stack BI solutions only prompt more questions about what is going on.  BI, reliant on those solutions, are not able to respond in a timely manner and nor should they.  They can’t possibly know the business or subject areas as the Excel analysts do.

kelly2With Tableau, I think BI could transform itself into a data service team, supporting Self-Service-BI throughout the whole organization.  I did a Prezi on this last year http://prezi.com/4bi24d44yid1/self-service-bi/.

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

KM: You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can’t take the trailer park out of the girl.

VN: Thanks for your time, see you soon.

KM: You bet.  Thank-you, and I look forward to connecting at the next TCC!

Ok that’s it for this one. Delighted to have our first Zen Master in the can. Thanks also to all those that are still waiting to have their interviews featured and have shown interest in this series. We’ve got a couple of very vocal bloggers lined up, some faces that will be well known to many of you.

Until then stay safe, and if anyone needs a shoulder operation, I can recommend an excellent surgeon….

Regards, Paul

2 minutes with… Peter Gilks of Slalom Consulting

2 mins with title2

Good morning all, I hope I find you well.

It seems that “2 minutes with…” is proving to be quite the premier interview show on the web. We’ve been literally inundated with requests to take part. I might have to employ some additional ninjas to deal with the admin.

We’re switching continents for this episode… He’s an alien. He’s a legal alien. He’s everyone’s favourite Englishman in New York…

It’s Peter Gilks (@pgilks) of Slalom Consulting in NYC.

250px-Slalom_ConsultingFounded in 2001, Slalom Consulting are an American business and technology consulting firm and were named as one of the best 50 companies to work for by Forbes in 2013.

Here at VN we are big fans of Peter’s work, in particular his cool Tableau Public vizzes. This recent one will roll back the years for you hardened video gamers. Peter is also a vocal tweeter and has been very helpful with his feedback about this blog and other topics.

IMG_0042VizNinja (VN): Hi Peter, how are you?

Peter Gilks (PG): I’m very well thanks, despite just getting back from seeing the Chicago Bulls lose at Madison Square Garden.

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

PG: Peter Gilks, Data Visualization Consultant at Slalom Consulting, New York. Slalom are Tableau North American Alliance Partner of the Year 2013.

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

PG: I started using Tableau about 4 years ago when I was working as a customer insight analyst at Barclays. At first it was just a great a replacement for coding SQL and draw charts in Excel, but I soon realised the scope of the product and I was hooked!  Eventually the product grew within the company and we were lucky enough to get a Server which opened up the possibilities of pushing Tableau dashboards out to colleagues and customers. These days I’m spreading the love to other organisations, big and small, as a Tableau consultant at Slalom.

Tableau Public has also become something that I’m passionate about. I have my own blog which I run as a hobby and I try to do creative things with data. But I also love reading other folks blogs and get a kick out of seeing Tableau Public dashboards embedded in news sites. Where as I mostly make vizzes on fun topics, things like the recent dashboard showing fatal shootings of children in the US that was featured on NBC News really show how powerful data visualisations can be.

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

PG: There are a few big impacts I see Tableau making. One is the huge increase in efficiency for business and data analysts – which in turns leads to another that is the discovery of insights which is enabled by the ability to ask and answer questions quickly. Another major impact is the engagement with data from people who would otherwise be disengaged and making more ‘gut’ decisions. I think the aesthetics of Tableau really help draw people in, and enable them to make new discoveries and better decisions.

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

PG: The Tableau Community is really one of the best-selling points of the product. It’s such a friendly, welcoming bunch and I enjoy reading various blogs, which are quite diverse in content. I also love the way that Tableau appreciates and encourages the culture of knowledge sharing through things like the Zen Master program. And the Tableau Customer Conference of course is the highlight of the year. Your blog has also been hugely helpful (and fun).

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

PG: Specifically in relation to Tableau we should as a user community be willing to help keep the company moving in the right direction through open discussion and constructive criticism. For the BI industry in general, I think expanding the field beyond IT and involving people with other skills and views is the key to success. Lets make BI an enabler for creativity, not a barrier.

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

IMG_0438PG: I’m currently getting into home brewing – there is a dry hoppy IPA in the fermenter right now.

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

PG: No problem, enjoyed it.

Hope you enjoyed our latest episode of the interview show that’s taking the internet by storm. I’d recommend that NBC, BBC or Al-Jazeera get in touch quickly as our rates are going to rise.

Regards, Paul

2 Minutes with… Paul Chapman of easyJet

Ah good day to my Tableau disciples. Peace be with you. May your day be free of exploding 3D pie charts

I’d like to introduce you to the first of a regular series of short interviews, entitled “2 Minutes with…”. The more alert of you will have worked out that this is where I spend 2 minutes with an interesting person in the BI area and ask them a few questions relevant to Tableau and viz and all that. I then document what they’ve said and we all look on in awe as to how clever they are. They then slip me a backhander and we all emerge as winners. Lovely.

First up is Paul Chapman (@cheekie_chappie) of easyJet

easyjetFounded in 1995, easyJet are a British airline carrier and one of the pioneers of the “low-cost” airline boom of the 1990’s. They’ve seen very rapid expansion since formation and have always been characterized by their use of innovative marketing techniques, not least in their battle with rival low-cost operators. Check this interesting BBC documentary for some insight.

Paul1VizNinja (VN): Good morning Paul, how are you?

Paul Chapman (PC): Fine thanks, nice to talk to you again.

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

PC: Paul Chapman, Finance Manager for Business Intelligence @ easyJet

VN: How do you use Tableau at your organization?

PC: I am leading our Tableau programme, which we have had in the business for about six months now.  We started with a proof of concept scheme of 10 desktop users with a server in a box under a desk, which has now increased to 25 desktop users, which represent each key pillar of the business and a 16 core server across two physical and two virtual machines.

VN: What has the impact been on your business?

PC: We are still looking at the art of the possible with Tableau and getting our desktop users up to speed with the fundamental and advanced training sessions, but the proof of concepts have highlighted some innovative ways in which we can visualize our data and make current reporting significantly more interactive for the end-user.  We have also set up an internal Tableau user group, which shares suggestions, ideas and best practice across Yammer and at our monthly catch up meetings.  The training has also been recognized by HR and added to the individuals training records which is also important in ensuring they are being recognized for the time and commitment they are giving to the tool.

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

PC: I follow multiple blogs and twitter users, there are too many to mention individually but suffice to say that 85% of the people I follow on twitter and 100% of the blogs are Tableau related!  The Tableau Public viz of the day is also a fantastic resource (as are the Tableau books by Dan Murray and George Peck.

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

PC: Making sure that you don’t run before you can walk.  Tableau is only one part of the whole BI journey for us.  We are also defining the ‘Analyst of the future’ and trying to fix our underlying data warehouses and source data as well.  Another key task is defining visualization best practice and guidelines and even the colour palettes we should use.

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

Paul2PC: When not flying planes I also enjoy taking long runs through mud, fire, water, ice and electricity – normally in fancy dress as well!

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

PC: You’re welcome, always a pleasure.

Hope you enjoyed the first episode of “2 Minutes with…”. As always, feedback is invited. If you’d like to be the subject of a future edition then give me a tweet and I’ll send a Ninja over.

Regards, Paul