Many civic organizations and governments collect data in their work, but gathering useful insights from spreadsheets can be challenging. Data visualization tools such as Tableau can help an organization understand what their information means and use it to make informed decisions.
Organizations which gather large amounts of structured data through the course of their work and want to make sense of it all can benefit from data visualization tools like Tableau. Creating dashboards visualizing typical datastreams is easier than creating visualizations from scratch with Tableau, but still requires a decent level of comfort with data analysis and with managing digital tools. Tableau is unlikely to be useful for small organizations or those with low tech capacity.
Tableau is a visual analysis platform for gathering “business intelligence” – turning raw data into dashboards and other forms of visualization to make numbers easier to understand and apply to solving problems. Tableau is designed with a range of different audiences in mind: data analysts or scientists, project managers, organizational leaders, etc. Visualizations can then be exported, embedded on websites or shared in a variety of formats, supporting more effective data-driven storytelling with broader audiences.
Tableau is a very popular product, with over a million users, including a range of very large companies. Smaller organizations or those without staff interested in learning about data analysis may find Tableau too complex for their work.
Tableau is subscription based. At least one account requires “Creator” level access, which is $70/month; there is a monthly fee for each additional user with lower levels of capability at lower tiers.
Data analysis, even with a tool like Tableau, is both an art and a science. New users will find the system daunting. While the platform itself is not difficult to use, managing your data and gaining insights takes time to learn.
Tableau has a large set of help documentation available online, and some support for clients.
As a cloud-hosted application, there is no ongoing maintenance required.
The main sensitivity with Tableau is the information itself. Anyone gaining access to the console could see the information your organization is analyzing, which could be dangerous if you’re working with personally identifiable data or on sensitive topics.