What is Tableau?

Tableau is a powerful business intelligence and data visualization tool that has a very intuitive user interface. You don’t need any coding knowledge to work with Tableau. It is very useful in drilling-down data, creating insightful reports and garner actionable business insights.

What is Tableau?
November 15, 2018      12551 Views     0 Comment(s)

In this blog we will dig deeper into what is Tableau and everything that you should know about it.

But before we get started, let me lay down some groundwork for you by explaining what exactly we mean by “Business intelligence and Data Visualization tool” when we talk about tableau.

Smart, strategic and real time decision making is a must and a very crucial factor in the development of any organization. In the early days that was done by revising and analysing documented reports comprising all the data but in the recent years data visualisation became popular. It made the whole decision making process more efficient and better by helping understand the data better, grasp concepts and identify patterns.

Wondering how? Here’s how, it changed the way we see and understand the data. Visualizing the data in pictorial or graphical form increases the productivity. I mean, it’s pretty clear that using charts, graphs or images to visualize and study the data is way easier and interesting than just poring over the reports and spreadsheets again and again.

Coming to the business Intelligence part, let’s understand what role Tableau plays in it and how tableau has taken over the world of business intelligence.

Decisive FactorHow Tableau Wins?
Technical KnowledgeNo need for any prior technical knowledge in order to use tableau.
Connecting to data sourcesTableau connects to all kinds of data sources, be it MS Excel, data warehouses or web data etc.
SpeedComing up with interactive, visual data presentation in mere seconds rather than months or years.
Data VisualizationHighly evolved data visualization provides number of ways in which data can be studied to benefit and empower the businesses’ growth.
Gaining insightsIt generates visually engaging business insights.
Ease of useTableau is a simple drag and drop interface which makes it easy to learn and operate.

Tableau business intelligence and data visualization tool has been placed in the leader’s quadrant for the fifth year in a row in 2017 in the Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms by IT research firm Gartner. Gartner has positioned Tableau as highest in ability to execute again this year. When it comes to the aspects of intuitive analytics and interactive visual analytics it cannot get any better than Tableau.


Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms

“We believe being named a Leader for the fifth consecutive year is a testament to the success our customers have had using Tableau to see and understand their data, and feel it confirms Tableau as the industry standard for interactive visual analytics” Francois Ajenstat, Chief Product Officer at Tableau.

Advantages of using Tableau

User-friendly approach
  • Fantastic Visualizations:

It is one of the greatest strengths of Tableau. You can work with a lot of data that does not have a seeming order to it and create a range of visualizations thanks to the in-built features of Tableau. It helps you create visualizations that stand out of the crowd. You also have the option of switching between different visualizations in order to bring about a greater context, ways of drilling down data and exploring the data at a very minute level.

  • In-depth Insights :

Businesses need insights and they need it now. Tableau can help forward-thinking in enterprises to analyze the data without any specific goals in mind. You can explore the visualizations and look at the same data from different angles. You can frame ‘what if’ queries and work with data by hypothetically visualizing data in different manner and dynamically adding components for comparison and analysis. When you are working with real-time data then these capabilities are accentuated in a very big manner.

  • User-friendly approach :

This is one of the greatest strengths of Tableau. It is built from the ground up for people who do not have any technical skills or coding experience for that matter. So everything can be done by anybody without any prior set of skills. Since most of the features are drag-and-drop, each visualization is so intuitive and self-depicting. Tableau today is no doubt one of the best visualization and analytics tool in the market.

  • 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 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, non-relational data among other types of data. Tableau effortlessly blends all the different types of data to help organizations come up with compelling visualizations.

  • Adding data sets:

Be it some database or 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 in order to bring about a greater context, ways of drilling down data and exploring the data at a very minute level

Steven John, CIO at AmeriPride

“We originally chose Tableau to run our analytics because of how well established it is in the industry. We knew that, based on their history of reliability and credibility, with Tableau we were positioned to succeed right out of the gate,”Steven John, CIO at AmeriPride.

Understanding a little more about Tableau

Tableau aims to help people see and understand data. It is on a mission to ensure Tableau products meet the stringent requirements in order to transform the way people use data to solve problems. It is very easy to analyze data and understand it in a beautiful and useful manner. This is one of the reasons why Tableau is unassailable when it comes to providing killer interactive data visualization in order to help organizations solve their data problems and come up with data-driven solutions and business insights that make a difference. You don’t need the support of the technical team in order to understand the Tableau Product. It is the true democratization of data and all levels of the organization are able to access the data without a hitch. All this brings about a sense of transparency and agility and quick and right decision-making. The beauty of Tableau lies in the fact that data visualization is easy, simple and fast that even a non-analyst can understand it. It is a perfect amalgamation of the various elements like dimensions, labels, and colors in order to come up with something that is stunning and utilitarian at the same time.

Understanding Tableau

Tableau has nearly 40,000 users which includes organizations of all sizes in order 150 countries making it one of the most widely used business intelligence and data visualization tool.

Tableau Public

Even though Tableau is a proprietary tool and Tableau cost is not low, there is a free version of Tableau called Tableau Public. Within the Tableau Public product we have these two:

  • Tableau Public Desktop:

The Tableau Public Desktop has a few limitations as compared to the Tableau Desktop which is paid.  Your Tableau workbook has to be saved in the Tableau Public Cloud itself. Another limitation here is that you can work only with the local data.

  • Tableau Public Server:

The Tableau Public Server is hosted on the cloud by the Tableau enterprise. All your workbooks and data are freely available through Tableau Public Cloud. You can create files, data visualization or spreadsheets for the web.

Tableau Reader

The Tableau Reader is a free desktop application that can be directly deployed for working with the various Tableau data visualization. The Tableau Reader is directly built in the Tableau Desktop. Using the Tableau Reader you can do a lot of tasks like drilling down data, discovering data and filtering of data. It consists of a Tableau workbook which is a file that has the data saved with it. When you have access to the workbook on the server it is possible to download it and the data. This way you can directly work with the Tableau Reader. But the Tableau Reader cannot be connected to the Tableau Server.

How Tableau makes working with data so intuitive?

It is clear that Tableau is unlike any other business intelligence and data visualization tool that we have in the market today and Tableau customers love it. It has a very disruptive approach to working with data. It is easy to learn how to use Tableau. The founders of Tableau have mastered the art of imitating the way the human mind understands data and putting it into practice into how Tableau visualizes data. It seamlessly combines the database technologies, computing graphics, and thus helps to answer the most pressing data questions. It provides an intuitive drag-and-drop feature that can be performed by anybody. The entire Tableau interface is built from scratch due to the inspiring and easy-to-use solutions that Tableau products are offering

The various Tableau products and their uses

Tableau Desktop :

Let us learn about the Tableau uses. Anybody can work with Tableau Desktop thanks to it extreme user-friendliness. You can store the reports and dashboards on the Tableau Server and work with it by merging it on the system browser. You can connect with various types of data and convert into easy comprehensible Tableau Reporting, Tableau data visualization and Tableau dashboard that can be accessed even via the mobile devices.

Tableau Desktop

The Tableau Desktop product is used for creating stunning visualization, data analysis, creation of workbooks, data stories and more. If you are using the Tableau Desktop Professional then you can publish your data onto the Tableau Server, Tableau Public or the Tableau Online.Tableau Server :

The Tableau Server is another product from the Tableau stables that lets you distribute your interactive workbooks to the right stakeholders. Using the Tableau Server it is possible to edit the Tableau dashboard, visualizations, workbooks and stories. When you use Tableau Server you can have data access that is up-to-date and insights that are of high value.

Tableau Server

The Tableau Server administrator can control the access to servers, protect the data and provide permissions to the various workbooks, projects, views and data sources. You are able to manage the collaboration, security and performance of the Tableau products.Tableau Online :

Tableau Online is the analytics platform that is present in the cloud and accessible through any device anywhere. It is useful to publish the Tableau Dashboards on the Tableau Online and share the data discoveries with anybody.

Tableau Online

You can collaborate with anybody and explore the various features like interactive visualizations, explore hidden opportunities and so on. You can transmit your dashboard through any web browser or mobile devices onto the Tableau Online.

Eunice Lim, Senior Manager, Business Analytics, Seagate Technology.

“If I didn’t start using Tableau, I would still be using Excel. I would still have a fear of data. And then I wouldn’t have a bigger view of how data can help in my day-to-day work”Eunice Lim, Senior Manager, Business Analytics, Seagate Technology.

What you can do with the Tableau tool?

Tableau is one of the best business intelligence and business analytics tools due to the following reasons:

  • Working with Tableau Reporting tool and Dashboard
  • Data visualization and data discovery
  • Self-service business intelligence and analytics
  • Spotting trends, analytics and statistics

Even though Tableau cost is on the higher side, the Tableau customers are not complaining. It has in-built drag and drop options along with table calculation features that can help to add complex analysis with the click of a mouse.

Tableau also seamlessly integrates with the various programming languages like Python, R and so on and this is of great use to the data science community. One of the most important features of Tableau is that it can connect with almost any type of data source like text data, excel files, and databases having different types of data stored into it which Tableau competitors find it hard to emulate.

Working with Tableau Dashboard

The Tableau Dashboard is an important aspect of the Tableau Product that lets you create unique data stories. You can deploy this unique feature of the Tableau tool so that working with data is a breeze.

The things you can do with Tableau Dashboard:

  • Creation of stories with Dashboard
  • Adding objects and views to dashboards
  • Deploying filters on dashboards
  • Experimenting with different formats and layouts
  • Making the dashboard interactive

Since Tableau is an analytical tool it can help to create some advanced analytics and interactive visualization methods. Some of the advanced analytical methods in Tableau include creating the various Tableau Maps, Tableau charts and plots like Bump Charts, Funnel Charts, Histograms, Box Plots, Pareto Charts and more. You can find a lot of Tableau Dashboard examples which are completely customized depending on the specific needs of the industry and enterprise.

Comparing Tableau with Microsoft Excel

Comparing Tableau with Microsoft Excel

One of the most widely used spreadsheet application is Microsoft Excel. So it is easy to confuse the Tableau application with that of the Excel applications at least for the beginners. Both of these tools can be used to create data visualization, and data analysis. But the way these two tools are built is completely different. The approach that Tableau takes to reach the insight from data is totally different from Excel.

TableauMS Excel
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.
In Tableau, you can gain insights that you never thought possible. You can play around with the interactive visualizations, deploy the data drilling tools and explore the various data that is available and you don’t need to have the specific knowledge of the insight that you are looking for beforehand.When it comes to Excel you have to have a beforehand knowledge of the insight that you want and then work with the various formulae in order to get there along with the tabulation needed
With Tableau, it is all about an easy and interactive approach.For Excel you need to have some programming in order to come up with real-time data visualization.

Watch this short video that compares Excel with Tableau by clicking HERE

Tableau for Enterprises

When it comes to enterprises the implementation of Tableau is different as compared to the Tableau for individuals. So the enterprises need to follow a certain set of steps in order to get this fabulous tool up and running.

In the first phase it is all about the right IT planning, consultation regarding the Tableau architecture, securitizing the pre-installation steps, server setup and verification and the security configuration.

The following step includes the steps involved in data flow and migration this step includes the various aspects like data modeling, data mining, data extraction, integrating with various data sources, the business workflow and more. Once all these steps are completed and you are set up to deploy the Tableau latest version, we can see that the enterprise can actually use the Tableau tool with full business effect and impact. Once this setup is completed then it is up to each and every organization to exploit the full potential of Tableau since when it comes to the number of features, Tableau can be considered as one that has the seemingly infinite number of features!


Tableau is one of the top business intelligence and data visualization tools that are available today. It is being used by most of the Fortune 500 companies in order to derive valuable insights from their data. The best part of Tableau is that there is no need for the people working with the powerful tool to have any sort of technical knowledge or programming skills. Most of the features are self-explanatory and drag-and-drop aspects. So with businesses on the constant lookout for more valuable insights to ever grow the business, a tool like tableau becomes that much more indispensable to organizations regardless of the industry vertical and customer segmentation.

There is also an informational tutorial video on “Introduction to Tableau” by intellipaat, you can watch the video by clicking HERE

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



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