End user experience is the key to a data-driven culture

One of the biggest challenges facing the analysts and data teams within an organization is the struggle to take the wealth of information that an organization’s data resources have to offer and then effectively communicate those insights out to the decision makers and end users throughout the company. Data visualization platforms like Tableau have created outstanding tools that provide a means for complex data to be moved out of the endless database tables and static reports of traditional Business Intelligence platforms and allow that data to be presented more intuitively, interactively and effectively than ever before. However, even the very best visualizations can’t succeed at effectively communicating anything if they never reach their intended audience, or if they don’t become regular go-to resources for their stakeholders. To put it another way, an outstanding graph, chart or dashboard is ultimately only effective if business users or clients can benefit from the information it has to offer. In practical terms what this means is that for an organization’s data resources to truly become an essential part of the day-to-day functions of the business, the following elements must be addressed in order to optimize the end user experience:

Awareness
Users must be Aware that these resources exist, what they contain, and where they are located.

Availability
The organization must have a practical means of making data resources available to all the potential teams and end users who can benefit from them.

Accessibility
The organization must have an effective set of systems, policies and management tools that make data resources accessible at the appropriate level to the potentially wide range of teams, individual end user types and use-case scenarios that exist throughout the organization.

Familiarity
Users must have the opportunity to become familiar with how to identify and locate various data resources, understand what is being presented, know how to correctly interpret the various elements, and understand how to effectively utilize interactive or user-controlled functions and settings.

Reliability
The information must be up to date, presented accurately and based on known data sources. Users must be able to trust what they are seeing, and understand and verify where the data being presented is coming from in order to have the confidence to use it for important decisions.

Consistency
Data resource elements must maintain a high degree of consistency over time in order to become established as trustworthy points of reference. This means that formats, units, values, graph structures and chart types should be well thought out and should align closely with the use cases for which they are intended. Make fundamental changes to critical data resources only where necessary, and be certain to immediately document and clearly explain any changes.

Context
Place data resources in context with related elements and supporting information.

 

Why settle for the default? 

The default setup of enterprise data visualization tools like Tableau Server generally involves a scenario in which end users navigate to views on an instance hosted on a dedicated physical server or cloud-based server solutions like AWS, Azure or Tableau Online. While this is effective from a technical standpoint in providing a means for making the data resources available to a variety of end users, it doesn’t necessarily go very far toward addressing many of the essential elements listed above in order to drive adoption and value throughout the organization. If these resources are tucked away on a server that folks may not know about, may need to request access to, or simply may not be a part of their regular task flow, it becomes less likely that these resources will be utilized.

Embedded visualizations put your data resources right where users are already going.

SharePoint:

Tableau views and dashboards can be easily placed into a sharepoint web part so that they are conveniently located with related content. Active Directory functionality can be implemented to provide authentication, access control and a seamless single sign-on experience. Users with the appropriate access are automatically authenticated to the view, and can access it immediately right within the sharepoint page without having to navigate out to another application or network element.

SharePoint 1

SharePoint 2

Image credit: Russell Christopher/ Tableau Love

 

Websites, Team sites and Intranet Web pages:

 Tableau has a variety of functions to allow the embedding of visualizations into standard web pages.  From using relatively simple iFrame windows to a full-featured custom portal using their JavaScript API, there are any number of ways to create a customized solution that places a live, fully interactive visualization or dashboard directly into a web page or a larger web framework.  An array of functions and features are available to provide authentication and access control, context-based filtering, JavaScript driven active controls, navigation elements, etc.  This is quickly becoming the killer app in terms of data resource integration.  Web and network-based resources are the hub of modern businesses, and the ability to place key data resources directly within these existing platforms and integrate them right down to things like color-schemes, fonts and related look & feel characteristics allows for a nearly seamless end user experience.

http://onlinehelp.tableau.com/current/server/en-us/embed.htm

 

PowerPoint

 

Tableau views and dashboards can be embedded as live, interactive elements directly into presentation applications like PowerPoint.  An executive presentation that incorporates a direct connection right within a slide to a live view of your data resources can instantly lend credibility to your presentation, while also providing an enormous boost to the level of visibility for the resource being accessed.

 

http://kb.tableau.com/articles/knowledgebase/embed-live-views-powerpoint

 

Company Wiki pages:

Placing a visualization right alongside the relevant reference materials on a company Wiki page is a simple and direct way to incorporate data resources into an existing system, making both of these resources more effective tools for the end user.

http://onlinehelp.tableau.com/current/server/en-us/embed_ex_wiki.htm

 

Summary:

 

The ability to utilitze embedded analytics to integrate your company’s data resources into the tools and systems that make up your end users’ everyday environment is the key to driving the adoption of a data-driven culture within your organization.  When users can see and interact with data resources directly within their go-to applications, those resources become more familiar, more useful and ultimately an essential part of the way the organization functions.