What is Tableau?

Tableau is one of the most fast-growing data visualization tools which is currently being used in the BI industry. It is the best way to change or transform the raw set of data into an easily understandable format with zero technical skills and coding knowledge.

What is Tableau?
 16th May, 2019

Tableau, with a motive to change the way you think and understand data!

Before digging deep into Tableau, let’s understand, ‘Why data visualization is important?

The answer is quite simple. Data visualization is important because we understand things that are visually well descriptive and interesting. So, working with data visualization tools like Tableau will help anyone understand data better, as it gives us access to the amount of data in easily digestible visuals. Also, well-designed data graphics is usually the simplest and the most powerful.

Watch this video on Tableau for begineers

Why Tableau?

Why use Tableau when there are a whole lot of tools available to perform data visualization?

Tableau is greatly used because data can be analyzed very quickly with Tableau. Also, visualizations are generated as dashboards and worksheets. Tableau allows us to create dashboards that provide actionable insights and drives the business forward. The products of Tableau always operate in virtualized environments when they are configured with the proper underlying operating system and hardware. Tableau is used to explore data with limitless visual analytics.

A few features of Tableau are given below:

  • Real-time analysis
  • Data Blending
  • Collaboration of data
  • No need any technical knowledge

How Does Tableau Work?

The major work of Tableau is to connect and extract the data stored in various places. It can pull data from any platform. Tableau can extract data sources from any database, be it from Excel, PDF, Oracle, or even Amazon Web Services.

When Tableau is launched, ready data connectors are available which allow you to connect to any database.

The data extracted can be connected live to the Tableau data engine, Tableau Desktop. This is where the data analyst and the data engineer work with the data that was pulled up and develop visualization. The created dashboards are shared with users in the form of a static file. The users receiving the dashboards view the file using Tableau Reader.

The data extracted from Tableau Desktop can be published to Tableau Server, which is an enterprise platform where collaboration, distribution, governance, security model, and automation features are supported. Using Tableau Server, end users can access the files from all locations, be it a desktop or a mobile phone.

As it can be seen in the image below, the Tableau Business Intelligence and Data Visualization tool had been placed in the leader’s quadrant for seven years in the same go in 2019 in the Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms by the IT research firm, Gartner.

How Does Tableau Work

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms

Tableau Product Suite

Tableau Product Suite includes the following:

  • Tableau Server
  • Tableau Desktop
  • Tableau Reader
  • Tableau Online
  • Tableau Public’

Tableau Product Suite

Following are the two ways in which the data analytics of Tableau can be described:

  • Developer Tools: Tools used in development, like designing of charts, dashboards, reports, and visualizations, come under this category. The major Tableau products in this category are Tableau Public and Tableau Desktop.
  • Sharing Tools: By the name, you would have understood what this tool does. Well, it is used for sharing reports, visualizations, and dashboards which are created using the developer tools. Main products that fall in this category are Tableau Online, Reader, and Server.

Let’s learn about them in detail.

Tableau Online:

As the term ‘online’ suggests, Tableau Online is a sharing tool. It has a similar usage as the Tableau Server, but the data is saved on servers which are provided in the cloud maintained by the Tableau group.

The data that can be published on Tableau Online has no storage limit. Tableau Online and Server, both need workbooks which are created by Tableau Desktop to broadcast the data. Data streamed from web applications, be it Salesforce or Google Analytics, are supported by both, Tableau Online as well as Tableau Server.

Tableau Public:

Tableau Public is especially built for money-saving users. As the word ‘public’ suggests, the created workbooks can’t be locally saved, rather it is sent to Tableau’s public cloud which can be accessed by the general public. This is an economical version which is very good for people wanting to learn and share their data with people.

Tableau Desktop:

This product allows one to code and modify the reports. Starting from creating reports and charts to combining them to form a dashboard, all this work is done in Tableau Desktop.

Tableau Desktop is classified into the following according to the connectivity and data sources:

  • Tableau Desktop Personal:

The development features of Tableau Desktop Personal version are close enough to that of the Tableau Desktop. In this particular version, the workbook is in the private mode and the access is limited. That means, these workbooks can’t be posted and are for personal use only. Therefore, they have to be divided either on Tableau Public or Offline.

  • Tableau Desktop Professional:

This version is very much alike to Tableau Desktop, but the only thing that differs is that the work generated or created in Tableau Desktop is published on the Tableau Server. In this version, there would be full access to all sorts of datatypes. It is great for people who wish to publish their work on the Tableau Server.

Tableau Reader:

It is a tool that allows one to view visualizations and workbooks generated using Tableau Public or Tableau Desktop. This data can easily be filtered, yet modifications are limited. Since anyone getting the workbook can view it using Tableau Reader, there is no security.

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Tableau Server:

This is mainly used to share visualizations and workbooks which get generated in the Tableau Desktop application throughout the organization. The work will become accessible once it is uploaded on the respective servers.

To increase the sharing of dashboards in Tableau Server, one should publish their work beforehand in the Tableau Desktop. Though, it’s not completely mandatory for the licensed users to have an installed Tableau Server. They just need the login credentials using which they can verify these reports.

As the security of Tableau Server is high, it is convenient for fast and effective data sharing in the organization.

Excel Vs. Tableau

Excel and Tableau, both are data analysis tools, but both of them have a unique approach toward data exploration. Where Excel works with columns and rows in spreadsheets, Tableau explores the excel data using its drag and drop feature. It formats the data in graphs and pictures that are easy to understand.

Sl. No. Tableau MS Excel
1. Tableau is basically a data visualization tool which provides pictorial and graphical representations of data. Excel is basically a spreadsheet for working with data in rows and columns. You need to first represent your data into the tabular format and then you can apply visualizations on top of it.
2. In Tableau, you can gain insights that you never thought possible. You can play around with interactive visualizations, deploy data drilling tools, and explore various data that is available, and you don’t need to have any specific knowledge of the insight that you are looking for beforehand. When it comes to Excel, you need to have a prior knowledge of the insight that you want and then work with various formulae in order to get there along with the tabulation needed.
3. With Tableau, it is all about an easy and interactive approach. In Excel, you need to have some programming in order to come up with real-time data visualization.

Advantages of Using Tableau

  • Fantastic Visualizations:

You can now work with a lot of data that doesn’t have any order to it and create a range of visualizations. Well, thanks to the in-built features of Tableau which help you create visualizations that surely stand out of the crowd. You also have the option of switching between different visualizations to bring about a greater context, ways of drilling down data, and exploring the data at a minute level.

  • In-depth Insights:

Tableau can help enterprises futuristically to analyze data without any specific goals in mind. You can explore visualizations and have a look at the same data from different angles. You can frame ‘what if’ queries and work with data by hypothetically visualizing it in a different manner and dynamically adding components for comparison and analysis. When you are working with real-time data, then these capabilities are highlighted in a huge manner.

  • User-friendly Approach:

This is the greatest strength of Tableau. It is built from the ground level for people who don’t have any technical skills or coding experience. So, everything can be done with this tool by anybody without any prior set of skills. Since most of the features are in a drag-and-drop format, each visualization is so intuitive and self-depicting.

Advantages of Using Tableau

  • Working with Disparate Data Sources:

Tableau has a powerful reason to be included by various organizations in today’s data-driven world where data can come from any point and any disparate sources. This is where Tableau has an edge over other Business Intelligence and Analytics tools. Tableau lets you work by connecting to various data sources, data warehouses, files which exist in the cloud, big data, data that exists in spreadsheets, and non-relational data, among other types of data. Tableau effortlessly blends all different types of data to help organizations come up with compelling visualizations.

  • Adding Data Sets:

Be it a database or an Excel workbook, with Tableau one can easily add new data sets which get automatically blended with Tableau using common fields.

  • Switching Between Visualizations:

You also have the option of switching between different visualizations to bring about a greater context, ways of drilling down data, and exploring the data at a minute level.

Tableau is one of the top Business Intelligence and Data Visualization tools available today. It is being used by most of the Fortune Global 500 list companies in order to derive valuable insights from their data.

The best part of Tableau is that there is no requirement of any technical knowledge or programming skills for working with it. Most of its features are self-explanatory and have a drag-and-drop feature. So, for businesses on the constant lookout for more valuable insights to grow, a tool like Tableau becomes more indispensable, regardless of the industry vertical and customer segmentation.

Check out the Intellipaat Tableau Training to get a head start in your Business Intelligence career!


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