Making Data Sexy and Sensible

Dave story,vice president,mobile & strategic growth, tableau.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
My Reading Room

A How would the everyday person use Vizable (app version of Tableau)?

One, we had a feller who told his wife about it. She downloaded it the day we launched, and the next day their daughter was presenting history data in her classroom. Another example I’ve done, was that I went to Amazon, and two clicks below Your Orders button, you can download your order reports. It’s right there; people don’t know how easy it is to get their data. And with that, I was able to pull down all my Amazon data on all the shopping, and have a discussion with my wife about where we’re spending the most money.

You can also get your data from your bank accounts; my son is away at college - and he doesn’t know this - but I downloaded all the transactions on his Scottish bank account, and I was able to see exactly who he was transferring money to. It’s a good way to keep track of your personal finances, to look at your personal fitness data – there’s a guy who’s a serious cyclist, and he was able to see his ride data for his entire (cycling) history. What was his maximum climb? What was his average heart rate? And he was able to see that in the same app, where he was able to use to analyze his Amazon shopping data.

How do you think data can be more effective for individuals as information?

I think what’s really important is that you have the ability to ask and answer questions at your data. We’ve all seen charts and graphs, those are missing the point. We know that the right way to see and understand data is to interact with it. When you can touch it, move it, take a piece of it out by swiping with your fingertip, then it becomes real and you start to ask questions. What’s really important is to go beyond PowerPoint and static charts, to being interactive, because that’s when you truly go from seeing to understanding. The step in between is interacting with it.

Will there be a time where there is too much data available to people?

Well, you might say that time is already here, but we just don’t know it. I think yesterday, several zetabytes of data were created, from IoT, personal trackers, websites, all the interactions human have with machines and machines have with each other. And what’s happening is the vast, vast majority, all but a tiny sliver of that data, is going to waste. We already have too much data. What we’re missing is tools to help us see and understand it, so we can take action from our data.

What is the general sentiment on data usage after launching Vizable?

I think the general audience would probably say they don’t think they can see and understand their data. They don’t think they can do data analysis –that’s for data scientists, and in general it’s for people who love to use Excel. What we want to  do is we want to reach people who don’t want to be stuck in “Excel Hell” – they just want to get answers. What we’re seeing is more people seeing and understanding their data more than before. Two reasons: One, is they have more data – it’s incredibly easy to get your own Amazon data in four clicks. Two, they are able to have tools like Tableau & Vizable that make so much easier for the individual to see and understand data – it’s not just for businesses anymore.

What features does Vizable have coming up to make visualized data even better?

I think that the big things we are working on next are probably our top two investments are: making it easier to get data in from a variety of different data sources, so you can get data from your Tableau environment and server, and also get direct connection to your wearable or to your restaurant’s supply shop. You can just say, “Hey, I want data from FitBit, just give it to me,” and not have to go to a website and download it to open it.

We want to take steps out, so more people can see and understand data. There’s also going to be more question-answering depth. There’re still questions you can’t answer with Vizable – you can with Tableau desktop. So those include how two things are co-related, and a whole bunch of things we haven’t yet done but we know we want to add, so that people can rapidly ask and answer questions through the touch interface.

"What we want to do is we want to reach people who don’t want to be stuck in “Excel Hell” – they just want to get answers."