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Tableau Review: Is It Worth Your Money, Time, and Effort?

Any good marketer today would agree that data is king. Gone are the days when marketing was guesswork. Now all major organizations leverage data analytics to make informed decisions about their consumers and craft their marketing strategy.


However, to harness the power of customer data and thrive, you need the right tools. And today, we are reviewing one for you – Tableau. You might be thinking – well, just because it works for top enterprises doesn’t mean my business needs it too.



Don’t worry. We are here to help you make an informed decision. So, without further ado, let’s get started!


What is Tableau?

Tableau is a powerful data analysis and visualization tool from Salesforce. It is quite popular, especially among data analysts and data scientists who help businesses make sense of their data and make calculated data-driven decisions.



There is a lot that can be done within Tableau, which we will see in a moment. But to give you an idea, Tableau allows users to connect to various data sources, such as databases, spreadsheets, cloud services, and more, and then transform this data into interactive visualizations, reports, and dashboards. Because of its user-friendly interface, powerful processing engine, and scalability, it is one of the top players in the industry, among the likes of IBM Watson Analytics and Microsoft Power BI.


Let’s take a quick look at what it offers.


Data Connection

It all starts with connecting your database. And with Tableau you can connect to a wide range of data sources including SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, Amazon Redshift, and Google BigQuery. Virtual connections made within the Tableau platform also simplify the process – by setting up a central access point to the data source. The key advantage is that you can easily share this access point instead of separately connecting every workbook. Also, simplified data curation for analysis ensures that your data warehouse has to handle a reduced load.



Compared to its close competitor Power BI, connectivity options inside Tableau are more advanced with plenty of room for customization and flexibility. Another thing worth mentioning here is that Tableau also provides context on how fresh or stale the data is.


Data Preparation

Now we come to the preparing-data-for-analysis part, which can be exhausting and time-consuming. But thanks to Tableau Prep Builder, you can significantly cut down on this time and effort. It is a self-service model that makes it easier and faster to filter out low-quality data – with a few clicks. No coding is required.



Prep Builder gives you a full picture of your data with three coordinated views. It is up to you which view you interact with. Here is something more impressive – you can also streamline and schedule your Prep Builder workflows with another tool called Prep Conductor.


Data Visualization

When it comes to visualization, Tableau has a straightforward drag-and-drop interface that is ideal for creating various types of interactive charts, graphs, scatter points, maps, and dashboards. Again, compared to its competitor Power BI (designed for non-technical users), Tableau offers more options in terms of visualization and customization.



Thus, you can easily tweak the visual elements to get the results best suited to your taste.


AI-powered Insights

Tableau’s power lies in live visual analytics. On top of that, it has transparent AI built within the platform that offers intelligent insights, predictions, and recommendations to help businesses make faster data-driven decisions. For instance, it can auto-generate an in-depth analysis of call history so you can readily discover the best opportunities for cross-selling and upselling. It will not only boost your sales but also enrich your relationship with your customers.



And hey, you can also integrate these AI insights into your products with Embedded Analytics.


Another thing that Tableau’s AI-powered system improves is the efficiency of repetitive tasks. Tableau’s generative AI, Tableau GPT, reduces the amount of time your analysts spend on day-to-day tasks so they can focus on more important disciplines of data analysis.


Dashboards

Dashboards are interactive spaces within Tableau that combine multiple visualizations and allow for dynamic filtering, drill-downs, and storytelling.



On Tableau, you can create your custom dashboards. Why do you need dashboards, you might ask? Because they are an excellent tool to professionally present data insights in meetings, etc.


Collaboration

Collaboration fosters creativity and efficiency in work. And Tableau is designed for collaboration and teamwork. It offers options for sharing visualizations and dashboards you create with others on the go. You can safely publish your work to Tableau Server or Tableau Online where it can be securely accessed by users you authorize.


Also, there is Tableau Public – a free-to-the-public platform where anyone can create, share, and explore data visualizations. It is a great place to start developing your data skills as it has a huge library to offer.


Integration and Add-ons

There are tons of tools and platforms that Tableau can be integrated with. It offers a great deal of flexibility in this regard. For example, you can connect Tableau to your SQL Server database and extract custom reports of the analysis of your data.



While these add-ons and integrations can enhance the functionalities of Tableau, they can also lead to a higher cost of ownership. So remember to proceed with caution.


Advanced Analytics

Tools like IBM Watson Analytics and Microsoft Power BI have been designed with non-technical users in mind. Tableau, on the other hand, boasts capabilities to execute quite advanced analytics, which requires users to have coding skills.


With Advanced Management, Tableau can handle mission-critical use cases. This feature is highly configurable and can meet advanced security needs. Also, it brings scalability to large-scale organizations with additional storage and data refresh resources.


Mobile Accessibility

Having your favorite tools on mobile has its perks. With Tableau Mobile on your smartphone or tablet, you can effortlessly explore data visualizations published to Tableau Server or Tableau Cloud. This feature can be deployed while also maintaining the security of the data. Also, all Tableau dashboards are automatically optimized for mobile devices.



Another advantage of Tableau Mobile is flexibility. There is support for a number of authentication methods, such as OpenID Connect, Mutual SSL, MAM, and SAML. Plus, many functionalities can be accessed offline and on the go.


Pros and Cons

So, what are the pros and cons of Tableau?


Pros:

  • Huge collection of data visualizations

  • Easy and user-focused interface

  • Powerful processing engine

  • Flexibility and customization

  • Mobile and desktop applications

  • A large community of users

  • Advanced analytics


Cons:

  • Rather expensive

  • Steep learning curve

  • Requires a substantial amount of training


Pricing

Based on customer data needs, Tableau offers 3 pricing plans – Tableau Creator, Tableau Explorer, and Tableau Viewer.



Creator includes Tableau Desktop, Tableau Prep Builder, and one Creator license on Tableau Cloud. On the other hand, Explorer includes one Explorer license on Tableau Cloud and Viewer includes one Viewer license on Tableau Cloud.


Final Verdict

It goes without saying that every organization has different needs and requirements. But Tableau can be customized to any specific taste, which we don’t often see in the industry. It is a fantastic piece of software with a lot of features, flexibility, and a huge community of dedicated users.


The only catch here is the pricing which is rather steep, compared to Power BI and IBM Watson Analytics. For beginners, the tool may seem overwhelming and require much time to master. But if one puts enough time and effort into Tableau, they won’t need to go look for an alternative any time soon.


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