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.
It’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.
With 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….