Letter #2: Analytic PenPals featuring Alteryx and Tableau developers. What’s the hype with Tableau?

My colleague Jacob Kahn and I are on a journey to expand the skills in our data tool belt. In the process, we plan to document the questions that he, an Alteryx expert, and I, a Tableau expert, have about each other’s platforms as we’re learning.

Check out our first blog post where Jacob answers my question: Why do people use Alteryx?

After his intro to the data management tool, he posed the following question to me: What’s the big hype with Tableau? I see such a large community and following! A question I am very happy to answer.

Dear Jacob (Alteryx Artisan),


A wise woman once said- “I’ve been waiting for this one, turn it up!”. I’m going to answer this question from the view of the analyst, the stakeholder, and the community member. But first, a little about how I got started.

When I was an analyst at Disney, we were doing a large portion of our reporting in Excel. And this worked, for the most part. It allowed us to transfer information to the various departments that needed it around the company. But when I stumbled upon Tableau, I knew it could take us to the next level. I often say, ‘Excel is for reports, Tableau is for reporting’. What I mean by this is the things people often do in Excel are fairly static and complicated to reproduce. They provide numbers with a large barrier to deriving insight. 
The Analyst 
Even if someone says they’ll only need one number once, any analyst will tell you that’s rarely true. Our reporting often depends on informing our stakeholders about the company and the environment it operates in and continuing to update them on the related metrics for it. Tableau makes this fairly simple. Rather than running something in Excel, pasting it into a PowerPoint, shooting off the deck in an email, Tableau (with the help of a well-built dashboard) allows updates to data to easily flow through the workbook. This accompanied by Tableau Server means regular, reliable, and real-time updates for the users. 
The Stakeholder 
I can’t think of an industry or department that doesn’t have data. And the amount of data being collected by companies is growing daily. But not everyone who can benefit from using data to make better business decisions has a data background. Tableau helps bridge the gap. It democratizes data consumption and interaction and makes it accessible to people from marketing to legal to HR. With recognizable charts and intuitive interactivity, little is required from the user to gain insight (again, this does necessitate a well-built dashboard). Additionally, Tableau Server allows people across functions or the company as a whole to be on the same page. 
The Community Member 
Tableau sits at the intersection of data and storytelling. Tableau allows those of us who love finding meaning in a myriad of information. With Tableau Pubic, we can share information on everything from social issues to our favorite hobbies. The ease, and if I do say so myself – fun, of practicing outside of our professional work allows us to organically grow our skills and truly appreciate the platform for what it has to offer.  
Whether you’re looking to streamline your reporting, add more data to your decision-making, or practice your data techniques in your spare time, Tableau is a great tool. I hope you enjoy getting started with it, Jacob. Can’t wait to go on this journey together. 
Sincerely your data friend, 
Autumn (Tableau Expert)

Dear Autumn,

Thanks for taking the time to write this letter. I must highlight in response, in my current role I see the struggle regarding the difference between reports and reporting. In relation to Alteryx and my prior letter, most of what I do is create reports. The big challenge I face on the daily is sharing these updated reports. Actually, my biggest issues stem from Excel itself, and its limitations. Trust me, I know how to corrupt any .XLSX file.

I’m excited to learn more about Tableau’s reporting capabilities – perhaps this can be a new solution to sharing the reports I generate in Alteryx.

I’m also doing some research on Data Coach, per your last note. Seems like they have a huge listing of Tableau AND Alteryx resources.

Your Analytic Pen Pal,


ANALYTIC PENPALS: Join Autumn Battani, Tableau Expert, and Jacob Kahn, Alteryx Expert, on their pen pal adventure exploring the tools of the others expertise. Autumn and Jacob are ready to share their letters with the public in hopes that the exploration of data processing and data visualization inspires readers to take the next step in their data game.

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