Can you please provide a brief description of your company and the role that you play there?
SCI-BI is a Cloud Data Integration and Analytics company that is vendor neutral and puts customer interest in the forefront when suggesting tools and technologies.
As the need to move data from & into cloud becomes inevitable, the need for specialized skills in Cloud Data integration and Big-Data ETL [Extract, Transform and Load] becomes critical, and we provide just that. Our Engineers in SCI-BI have extensive experience in using the latest best practices and standards that evolve in the Industry. Each of them goes through a rigorous training process to upgrade themselves to the latest trends in the Industry.
Our methodology involves thorough scrutiny of data to report the right data, capturing erroneous data at early stages, and pushing towards the “Single Version of the Truth.”
Our primary focus is on Analytics, and we have expertise in Tableau, Qlikview, SAP BOBJ, Cognos, OBIEE and other tools.
Please discuss a specific business challenge that your company (or your client) was facing that you were able to resolve using Tableau.
Our client is a Salesforce product company that integrates data from various government sources and provides it to its end-users. We did their data integration from all sources into Salesforce.com. They wanted to analyze this data using the best solution possible and give useful insights to their end-users. They were not sure about which was the best solution for their use case. This is when we suggested Tableau on AWS [Amazon Web Services] to be the best fit considering the data complexity. We had to build a Datamart in AWS and use Tableau to aggregate over 8 million Salesforce records to provide different visualizations and dashboards. We built various, Crosstabs, Pie-charts, Geography and bar-charts from the data. There was a review session with the end customers, and they were thoroughly impressed with the insights provided. The best part was that these Tableau visualizations were integrated directly into the Salesforce page using a tool called Sparkler provided by Tableau.
How did your company implement Tableau in this situation?
The client's data from Salesforce.com is incrementally extracted using Talend in AWS on a daily basis. This data is staged in a MySQL database before being loaded into Aurora DB Datamart using Ralph Kimball Strategy. There is an additional layer of ETL for data preparation to reduce complexity at Tableau layer. This is the most recommended strategy to get the most out of a Tableau investment.
Each dashboard was given a flat data source that contained everything the dashboard needs. In other words, all the visualizations that went into a dashboard connected to the same table (of course more than one dashboard may use 1 table). Even though all the joins were done at the data preparation step, all summarization was handled by Tableau (the final tables were built at a granular level). Alternatively, we could have created views as the final data points for Tableau, but our approach gave an enormous performance edge in Tableau overviews.
Was your company considering other platforms? What are the advantages of this platform?
Yes, we had compared with YellowfinBI & ElegantJ BI. Both are actually very good, but the customer was most impressed with Tableau.
On an annual or monthly basis, roughly how much does your company spend to utilize the platform?
This platform is in AWS. The customer got the licenses separately with 1 Tableau Desktop ($2,000 USD) and 10 end user licenses to start with ($1,000 USD per user). The AWS Tableau server costs approximately $1,000 USD per month.
Can you share any success, metrics, or overall results of your implementation of this platform?
The project overall is a success, with high customer satisfaction. Some of the graphs that were built totally surprised the customer, as they never believed it was possible given the nature of the data. This was possible because of in-house availability of ETL skills on our side that helps in effective data preparation.
Were there any software features/tools that you were really impressed by?
The best part of Tableau to me is the ability to perform advanced conditional aggregation. This is where Tableau stands out, compared to any other tool in the market.
Also, the ready to use AMI [Amazon Machine Image] on AWS meant the whole platform was up and running in 10 minutes. The connectivity to Amazon RDS was exceptional and the query results are instant.
Looking back, are there any areas of the software that you feel could be added or improved upon?
Yes, data blending should improve. Though the tool is promoted as a self-service business intelligence tool, a lot of customers are struggling because of lack of expertise with data preparation and blending. The ability to blend multiple tableau extracts would be a nice to have.
Also, the user interface should be more flexible for custom visualizations and dashboards. This is not a problem for self-service analytics, but often times, the business wants advanced reports authored to perfection which is hard with Tableau (the tool has its own brain and automatically adjusts the visualization based on the data). In many cases, we had to find a workaround which was luckily available.
Dashboard actions can lack clarity. It is a little confusing and take a while to get used to for business users.
Since we had the data in AWS RDS, it would have been better if Tableau allowed us to use a smaller server. The Tableau recommended server requirements are very huge, which is becoming expensive.
Have you had to interact with the platform’s support team or reference their support resources?
Yes, we had a polish session with Tableau support to enhance the appearance of the reports. This was also a Q&A session were we got some doubts clarified about Sparkler functionality and custom dashboards.
We ask you to rate the software on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the best.
What would you give the software for functionality of the features available?
What would you give the software for ease of use or ease of implementation into your business?
For support, as in responsiveness of the team or helpfulness of the resources available?
How likely are you to recommend the software to a colleague or similar business?
Overall satisfaction with the platform?