In the fast-paced world of analytics, platforms evolve quickly and capabilities are constantly expanding. In an effort to keep our analytics team at the top of their game, providing clients robust data packaged as efficiently as possible, the SMI Analytics team traveled to Las Vegas for the Tableau Conference in November.
After attending the 2017 conference, the team saw an opportunity to transform our reporting capabilities (largely based in Excel at the time) through Tableau, a platform designed to leverage the power of visual analytics to create a more interactive user experience. And with the advanced ability to intuitively blend several data sources together, Tableau has proven to be a valuable resource for keeping up with the increasingly challenging task of tracking radio respondents through the entire funnel and attributing to the appropriate media spend.
This year’s event had more than 18,000 data-driven attendees from industries and organizations of all shapes and sizes. CEO Adam Silipsky delivered the opening keynote speech in front of a very energized crowd at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, emphasizing the rapid expansion of the Tableau community in a short time–up to 1 million licensed users in 2019. This directly correlates with the exponential growth of data year over year, along with the increased complexity of that data and how to weave those raw numbers into meaningful stories. Silipsky went on to say that “only 8% of companies achieve analytics at scale, but by building a data culture that empowers more people with analytics through improved data literacy and analytics proficiency, companies can realize an entire workforce that makes better decisions with data.”
During the “Devs on Stage” keynote, several Tableau developers presented on the many exciting new product features coming in 2020 that will impact users at both ends of the spectrum. One of the most noteworthy features is “Explain Data,” which employs AI and statistical modeling to offer a series of potential explanations for the behavior of specific data points in a dashboard, all through a couple clicks of the mouse! (Click here for a cool .gif image that shows Explain Data in action.)
The final keynote, and arguably the most exciting, was the “Iron Viz” competition. Inspired by the format of Iron Chef, three of the most qualified Tableau experts were given 20 minutes to build a dashboard in front of a live audience, with the winner determined by a combination of panel judges and Twitter votes. Although they received the dataset a couple days in advance and had time to prepare their configurations, they were required to start with a blank workbook in front of the audience. This year’s data was based around international food and restaurant statistics. It was great fun to watch each contestant’s unique approach and how they all told very different stories with the same data.
The winner (see below) used an impressive combination of interactive visuals to showcase the varying diversity of cuisine from one country to another. Most European countries, for instance, have a strong national identity across their restaurants while a country like America is comprised of a more diverse mix of cuisines. This dashboard can be accessed on Tableau Public, an excellent resource for people to share their personal dashboards with the general public, which naturally promotes faster innovation.
In addition to the keynotes, there were hundreds of hands-on training courses available for attendees of varying interests, industries, and skill levels. Equipped with a strong foundation on the technical side of building dashboards, the SMI team went into the 2019 conference focused on learning more about best practices for enhancing the end-user experience through guided analytics. We enrolled in a full-day course on designing dashboards that properly leverage sensory memory and reduce cognitive load. Knowing which specific visual aids to deploy and when, combined with the strategic use of color, form and position, you can tell a story with the data that flows naturally and guides the user to the intended points of interest. By presenting our data in an organized, efficient, and accessible way, our D2C and B2B radio and podcast clients can rely on the Tableau dashboards to make decisions on key metrics that will help drive profitable media and creative direction.
The Tableau team has developed a product that is revolutionizing the world of visual analytics and they genuinely have a blast in the process. From the laid-back atmosphere of Data Village— the central hub where meals were served and sponsor booths were set up—to the huge party hosted at the Palms Casino on the last night, this conference is equally as enjoyable as it is educational. The Analytics team returned to the office with a greater understanding of Tableau’s functions and capabilities. Armed with new tools to improve the presentation and analysis of our data, SMI’s Analytics team will continue to provide our clients access to the most advanced marketing data available for years to come.
Some Pics from Data Village and Data Night Out