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October 28, 2011

TCC11 session feedback positive, except for the guy drinking the Pepsi


Wednesday I received the feedback from my session/presentation at the 4th Tableau Customer Conference.  I had a blast presenting my case studies (The Holy Grail of Strategic Decision Making) and the interaction from the audience made it a wonderful experience.  I presented three case studies:

  1. Collaborating for Value – An era of winning (this was an interactive analysis of retail prices by store by price point)
  2. Customer Segmentation – Planning for growth and identifying opportunities
  3. Penetration & Voids – Growing the business by finding the gaps

As has been my experience with presenting this same material both internally to our customer teams and externally to our buyers, the audience was able to gleam insights by “seeing” the data.  It’s a pretty cool experience when the data and the tool tell the story without you having to say a word.  Tableau makes it oh so easy.

What surprised me most about many of the customer presentations I attended was the lack of using Tableau live to show off their work.  Maybe my material lends itself more to that type of interactivity, but I would highly encourage anyone presenting findings from Tableau to use the tool live; you’ll get immediate feedback and you’ll be able to answer questions on the fly.

So how’d I do?  First up is a chart from Tableau that ranks all of the presentations, not only the customer presentations.  I’m the circle that the red line points to.  According to Tableau, this placed me in the top 3 of the customer presentations.

But how about the feedback on my presentation?  The response was overwhelmingly positive. I always get anxious waiting for the feedback!

I asked someone that was drinking a Pepsi to leave, jokingly of course, but I wonder if he gave me the “poor” ranking.  I tend to be a bit too directly and sarcastic and sometimes it’s taken the wrong way.  Or maybe it was someone that didn’t win the t-shirt I gave away.

Anyway, thanks to all of you that attended my session.  It was an awesome dialogue with the 75+ of you.  Hopefully we’ll catch up again in Europe.



October 22, 2011

Sex, Politics, Disasters and Cheating - What I’ve learned in 800 days of the VizWiz blog


It’s hard to believe that I started this blog on August 13, 2009, 800 days ago (yes, I know my first post wasn’t until Aug 17).  The time has absolutely flow by and I’ve learned so much. 

For example, I’ve never shaded an axis in lieu of a color legend until today.  Heck, I never even thought about until I saw a bunch of vizzes on Tableau Public that were using this style. I’ve always included the color legends, but it’s really not necessary on a dual-axis chart like this with only two colors.  You might even call the use of a color legend chart junk in this case.

From what this viz tells me, I should stick to some specific topics if I want to drive traffic:

  1. Sex
  2. Politics
  3. Cheating
  4. Disasters

Does that surprise you?  It doesn’t surprise me since those are topics that generally dominate the news.


One final stat of interest: 90% of the total traffic to my blog has occurred since I posted this viz as part of the Flowing Data contest about STDs.  Nathan must be a pretty popular dude.

October 21, 2011

Tableau Whitepaper: 5 Best Practices for Creating Effective Dashboards

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The latest Dashboard Insight contains a whitepaper written by Tableau that walks you through a five-step process for creating effective dashboards.  Basically, it’s a recipe card.  I’d encourage you to read it below or here.

The whitepaper below is pretty much identical to a whitepaper Tableau wrote in 2008, except it looks cleaner and shows some of the features added in Tableau 6.

October 15, 2011

Introducing the #TCC11 Excitometer

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What’s an Excitometer?  It’s a handy little column chart that measures your level of excitement for all Tableau Customer Conferences.  It averages all of your results and provides you some feedback if you need a pat on the back or a kick on the tail.

Fill it out for yourself.  Maybe the Excitometer has a message for you.

October 14, 2011

Practicing what I preach – A self-critique


Back in August I critiqued and improved a viz created with Many Eyes.  Some of my comments included:

  1. The map incorporates both color and size, which are set based on the measures picked on the right.
  2. Brushing a State(s) in any chart highlights the State(s) on the other charts.
  3. Hovering over a bubble or bar reveals the details of the stats chosen.  The stats update based on the selections made.
  4. I’m able to use the color scale consistently through all of the charts.

Now that I have learned how to use simple state polygons in Tableau, I realized that what I previously created was unnecessarily complex.  Here’s take 2:

I made a few easy to implement improvements:

  1. States are now polygons instead of bubbles
  2. The option to choose a size has been removed as it no longer would add any value
  3. The table on the right is now shows only the top and bottom 10 (I learned how to do this today via a discussion on the Tableau Forum that, not surprisingly, included a sample workbook for the solution from Joe Mako)

I also didn’t lose this set of functionality:

  1. Brushing a State(s) in any chart highlights the State(s) on the other charts.
  2. Hovering over a state or bar reveals the details of the stats chosen.  The stats update based on the selections made.
  3. The color scale is consistent through all of the charts.

In the end, I’ve reduced the viz from four charts to two and made it much easier to interpret the results.

See, I can practice what I preach and I love learning something new everyday.

Global Consumers Go Bubble Popping


Nielsen is at it again.  Just when I thought they were making strides in the right direction, they bring me back to reality.  As with most Nielsen articles, this one is well written with lots of facts that are explained in an easy to understand manner (kudos to them for writing well).  There’s even a nice bar chart that ranks survey responses.  But then, they throw this junk in there:

Is it just me, or is this screaming out for another bar chart?  Maybe they’re afraid they’ll bore their audience with another bar chart, so they throw in an unnecessary ranked bubble chart to gain your attention.  Are they THAT desperate?  Why not represent it like the bar chart below?


Or better yet, show the data itself.  It tells the same story, but only simpler and you don’t have to try to infer any additional meaning from the size of the bubbles.


My faith and resolve are not shaken though.   Eventually they’ll get annoyed by my emails and write me back.

October 13, 2011

Tableau Customer Conference Pocket Agenda (and the can't miss sessions)

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Four days!  Need I say more!  I can’t wait.  Tableau sent out the pocket agenda below so that we attendees can prepare ahead of time. 

Here are my plans for the breakout sessions (my intent is to attend those that I think will give me the most ideas to take back to work):

Tuesday 9:45-10:45 Tableau Inside…Intel Brahms 4
  11:00-12:00 Revenue Management @ American Airlines Brahms 4
  3:15-4:15 The Holy Grail of Strategic Decision Making
(I better attend this one since I’m the presenter)
Brahms 3
  4:30-5:30 How to Start a User Group
(I’ll be one of the hosts for this session)
Wednesday 9:45-10:45 Which Way Business Intelligence? Brahms 1-2
  11:00-12:00 Best Practices for BI Success Brahms 1-2
  3:15-4:15 Tableau & Statistical Analysis Puccini
  4:30-5:30 Tips & Tricks from the Wild Brahms 3
Thursday 9:45-10:45 Your Brain & You Brahms 1-2
  11:00-12:00 Making the Business Case for Analytics Brahms 1-2

I hope to see you there.  Please find me and say hi.

Alternatively, download the pocket guide here.

October 4, 2011

Available for Download: Tableau Certification Study Guide

It's almost here...the 2011 Tableau Customer Conference.  If you're anything like me, the anticipation is making you positively giddy!

I'm taking the Tableau Desktop certification test during the conference and the study materials were just released.  I've embedded them below.  It's a great guide, even if you're not taking the test.

Alternatively, download the study guide here.