2 minutes with… Matt Francis of Wellcome Trust

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Hello!

So we’ve been busy at Tableau On Tour – London. Great to see so many friendly faces and thanks to everyone who came to my talk and the London Tableau User Group.

In between sessions I managed to pin down our next victim subject of “2 minutes with…”.

In this edition we are delighted to welcome a big supporter of VizNinja – Mr Matt Francis (@Matt_Francis).

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is a charitably funded genomic research centre located in Hinxton, nine miles south of Cambridge in the UK.

mattVN: Hey Matt. How are you enjoying the conference?

MF: Great. Really enjoyed your session and had a lot of fun presenting my own about Story Points. I think that’s going to be a very popular feature.

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

MF: Matt Francis, Senior Software Developer, DNA Pipelines where I am the lead Tableau author

VN: Tell me about your org

MF: A leader in the Human Genome Project, we are now focused on understanding the role of genetics in health and disease. Our passion for discovery drives our quest to uncover the basis of genetic and infectious disease. We aim to provide results that can be translated into diagnostics, treatments or therapies that reduce global health burdens. WTSI was part of the Human Genome Project which spent 10 years decoding one human genome (3 billion letters in length) We now have single instruments that produce 100 times that data in a week.

VN: How do you use Tableau?

MF: Since Tableau arrived two years ago it has spread out from our team into pretty much every area of the WTSI. It’s now used in labs to track DNA samples as they process through our sequencing facility, in Cancer and Mouse Genetic teams to analyse experimental data. It is used to report on IT systems and our Corporate, Finance and HR systems. In fact wherever there is data Tableau seems to be there.

VN: What has the impact been on your business?

MF: The speed at which we can now produce dashboards has increased dramatically so that now, providing the data is there producing a full interactive dashboard is a dream to do. People are able to ask questions of their data and get an answer in hours rather than weeks. Tableau Server has enabled us to share dashboards across the WTSI. We have lots of tracking databases spread across different machines and Tableau allows us to blend these datasources together to present a single datasource, something we couldn’t do before without a lot of behind the scenes coding.

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

MF: Everyone. I’ve posted in the forums many time and been helped by a huge number of people. Twitter is great for help using the #tableau hashtag you get a wealth of help. I am constantly amazed by peoples generosity with their time to help fellow users out. That’s one of the real strengths of the community.

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

MF: Tableau works because is it quick, simple and powerful. The best visualisations carry that forward so avoiding the temptation to over complicate things is really important. Tableau allows people without an IT background interrogate their data with an ease they have never had before, keeping this simple is the key to Tableaus continued success.

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

MF: When I’m not building vizzes I like to take photos. Mostly landscapes with the occasional portrait, I have two young models that don’t keep still.

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Enjoyed that, thanks a lot Matt. Look forward to seeing more of your expert presentations at upcoming events.

Regards, Paul

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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

2 minutes with… Kelly Martin of VizCandy

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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