Editor’s note: Today’s post comes from Joshua Milligan, Tableau Zen Master, Principal Consultant at Teknion Data Solutions, and author of the VizPainter blog. Joshua participated in the pre-release program for Tableau Prep (previously known as Project Maestro).
I started my career at Teknion Data Solutions as a software developer. After a few years, I transitioned to Business Intelligence doing data modeling and ETL work. I liked working with data, but I found much of the process of building out ETL packages to be fairly tedious and time-consuming. And testing could be a nightmare! After hours of development and more hours running a process, I might find that half the values were missing or wrong. Then, I’d have to track down the point of failure, hopefully fix it, and test again. Please don’t misunderstand; I loved helping my clients and it wasn’t a bad way to make a living. But then I discovered something that changed my world.
That something was Tableau.
Tableau was magical! Here was an application that was seamless, transparent, and intuitive. I could drag and drop fields of data and instantly see visual results. I could ask questions, get immediate answers that would raise new and deeper questions and then quickly find answers to those. And it didn’t just change my world—it allowed me to serve my clients better and drive deeper insights much more quickly.
But it didn’t entirely eliminate the need for structuring the data. Certain types of analysis require certain types of data structures. “From now on, let other team-members build those structures!” I thought. I was hooked on Tableau and visual analytics and wouldn’t do much structuring of data outside the Tableau data connection screen again. Or so I thought.