Review – Tableau 8.1 Experience – London


Evening all,

Thought I’d post a small review of the Tableau 8.1 Experience event, which I attended this afternoon at the brand new London HQ of Tableau.

Here’s the programme for the event.

20131202_142543First up a nice bit of networking in the event foyer where I caught up with Paul Chapman (@cheeky_chappie) and Matt Francis (@Matt_Francis). Disappointing lack of free Tableau pens though.

Then into the plush (but overly warm) auditorium for the presentations. 

First up was Tony from Tableau who provided a short general overview of Tableau the application and the company and how they had come to exist. He called it the Tableau Revolution and given the proliferation of the application that might not be too strong a term. Tony alluded to the fact that typically there had previously been too much reliance on BI teams and that forming analytical insight was too difficult a task for most business users. A bold statement was that Tableau were 10 – 100x faster than other companies to get from A to B in terms of the analysis process. Not sure how that was quantified, maybe I should have probed. We also saw Tony highlight the positioning of Tableau in the Gartner magic quadrant. 

Then it was over to Kurt from Tableau for a product demo. I was a little disappointed that there weren’t more 8.1 features highlighted here but I can imagine that any non-Tableau users in the audience were more than impressed as he went from data to chart to dashboard to server fairly seamlessly. 

Then it was over to Matt Francis of the Wellcome Trust Sangar Institute. Matt works for in the DNA Pipeline Group and has made Tableau integral to their operations. 

Matt has a quick-fire, dynamic presentation style. Reminded me of a younger Hans Rosling and showed some cool examples of how he’s used Tableau to visualise DNA sequencer data as well as views of data from the cancer genome project. 

20131202_154050I expected that kind of view but I didn’t expect it when Matt showed how they use Tableau to manage the lab information, in terms of monitoring the health of some of the heavy hardware in the laboratory like the DNA sequencing machines. He correlated the quality data with room temperature information to show that one of the problem machines was near an open door, thus affecting the results. Excellent stuff. Tableau really comes into its own when data correlation is performed. He also showed Tableau views that are used to measure the availability of the sequencer machines. This helps his organisation plan resources for cleaning the machines and ensuring they are ready for the next run. 

Matt ended by touching on the ethics of DNA profiling. He highlighted the example of Angelina Jolie who discovered she had the BRCA1 Breast Cancer Susceptibility Gene and took actions accordingly. Interesting stuff. 

Then a bit of a Q & A session before the invaluable networking in the bar. Had a good chat with Tom Brown (@_tombrown_) of The Information Lab about a number of subjects.

Another useful session at Tableau HQ. Looking forward to the next one. 

Cheers, Paul

Social Data Day @ Google

Hello Tablegions,

I’ve just spent a very enjoyable afternoon at the shiny and brightly coloured offices of Google in the City of London.

20131126_132946The event was part of Social Data Week (#sdday) and was billed as a discussion about social media, data analytics and such like with a product demo of Tableau from Andy Cotgreave (@acotgreave) as well as a couple of panel discussion sessions.

Here’s how the afternoon panned out.

The event was hosted by Rob Easton (@robeaston33), Head of Enterprise Cloud Platform at Google, and he opened up with a brief introduction before handing over to Tim Barker (@timbarker) of DataSift.

tbarkerI wasn’t aware of them prior to this session and Tim laid on an excellent introduction to their services and then a demo. DataSift suck in massive volumes of data from social platforms, filter out the crap and irrelevant content and then feed that to big enterprises who use tools like Tableau to perform their analytics. It was amazing to find out that a single tweet contains about 140 different data points that DataSift can report on. Sounds a really good tool. Tim was also super chatty in the breakout sessions and provided some great insight into their business.  “It’s not information overload, it’s filter failure”.

Next it was over to Rishi Kumar of Unilever (@Rishi_NK) to discuss how they’ve used data analytics tools and in particular Tableau to achieve their business objectives. It featured how Rishi’s work has allowed them to gain valuable insight into data on social platforms. Very interesting stuff. “Data trumps opinion” was one memorable quote.

Then a bit of a panel discussion where Rishi was joined by a couple more guys including Nathan Sage of PA Consulting. Unfortunately I can’t recall too much about the Q & A session but there were a good few questions from a very engaged audience.

bradkNext up was Brad Kilshaw (@bradderskilshaw), Google’s head of Social, who gave us a tour of the Google portfolio of social tools. He seemed very confident in Google’s ability to be the best in all areas. I’ve got some opinions on that which I’ll elaborate on in a future blog, and also around the area of Platform as a Service which is a big topic in my area at the moment.


The final presenter was the always entertaining Andy Cotgreave (@acotgreave) of Tableau. He gave a demo of the tool and how easy is to turn data into insight. I’m interested in what people thought that have not had any previous Tableau experience. Let me know.

Then it was the final wrap-up panel discussion and again more cool questions.

All in all a good afternoon. I look forward to future sessions.

Cheers, Paul