Tableau Conference Recap – #data17

It’s been a week now since my first Tableau conference and I have arrived back in the real world. I was lucky enough to be invited along to represent my current placement company Exasol at this year’s Tableau on Tour Conference at Tobacco Dock in East London. So I got to spend three days demonstrating the power of Exasol, meeting great people from the Tableau community and attending breakout sessions.

Before the conference I had extended my original Makeover Monday viz for week 16 (see original here) on English prescription data to allow it to fully show off the quick insights possible when using Tableau to connect to your data in Exasol. This was on display live for anyone who was interested to interact with. As the Exasol expert Johannes Meier led the on the spot demos, analysing a dataset of over 3 billion rows in Tableau and answering technical questions.

On both Tuesday and Wednesday I was invited to the Alteryx area to demonstrate the newly improved integration (to be released for general download in the next few weeks) of Exasol and Alteryx to conference visitors. In-DB tools now support a connection to Exasol, which will be great news to those Tableau analysts who use Alteryx to clean their data and perform more complex analysis to then show in Tableau. If you have ever tried to import data from Exasol to Alteryx with the import tool you will know that for large data volumes this can be a painfully slow process. The new In-DB support brings this import down to just a few seconds.

Then of course I had opportunity to visit keynotes and sessions to hear more about the ways in which others use Tableau and the sort of problems they face with their data as well as refresh and develop my technical skills. I want to highlight three of these in particular.

Of course I had to see my once ago team leader at Leicestershire County Council (and the person who helped me discover both Tableau and The Data School) Rob Radburn talk about the way in which he and his eight year-old son use Tableau. A great talk to end the conference, which I am sure many regretted having to miss due to the late time slot. Rob reflected on what we can learn from people with new approaches to things that are familiar to us.

Another one I couldn’t miss was the talk by Inmarsat’s Laura Schofield, who actually started her Tableau journey with The Data School. A little over a year ago, in our second week at The Data School, I was the project leader for our very first client project and it was an intense week for us, trying to wrap our heads around the complex data that we were presented with by Inmarsat. While I had the opportunity to catch up with Laura a few times at Tableau User Groups since then it was great to get a closer insight into the journey that Inmarsat has been on in the last year and see how a very complex analysis can be made so easy with Tableau you can just discover it by accident.

And my personal favourite was the Wednesday morning keynote speech by David Spiegelhalter, who is a fantastic speaker with a great sense of humour and who touched on many important topics. As a tool for self-service analytics Tableau is sometimes a little removed from the academic side of things and he managed to convey these topics in approachable ways that I am sure motivated not just me to revisit some of my stats sessions from university. As a psychology nerd I also appreciated his references to research into heuristics and biases. Basically, if you mention Tversky in your presentation you have me sold.

Thanks again to Exasol for giving me this opportunity for development at this year’s Tableau Conference on Tour in London. I am sure it won’t be my last.