What do you know in Tableau

From my own personal experience, I think the answer is "it depends" on a number of factors, such as:


1) Your data--is it stored in a clean structure that Tableau will always play nicely with?  (not likely, so transforming the data may be required on an ongoing basis)

2) Your current staff--do you have highly technical employees who are willing to help and work closely with the analyst?

3) Your expectations

And many more, I'm sure I'm missing.


My experience has been that using Tableau is really easy once the data is in an ideal structure.  Sometimes getting to that point is more difficult than building the actual dashboards.  If the developer is expected to gather and store the data as well as create reports and maintain Tableau Server, etc. then SQL/ETL skills will be a big plus.


I had very little SQL experience and was hired as a Tableau developer.  Working with Tableau has been a pleasure, overall, but I certainly wish I knew more about SQL and ETL in general.  I am dependent on someone else for a lot of my data, and that has its limitations.  I have learned very basic SQL quite naturally, by just using the product and connecting to SQL views and stored procedures (and by being active on forums like this one)--but I also had a bit of programming/web design experience as well and some of those skills transfer.


Overall, we've been successful in our goal of getting data to our users' more easily and we are improving all the time. However, If I didn't have the support of our company's data architect, I would certainly struggle. I should also mention that our data is initially stored in a very unclean fashion with very little data validation, and this makes getting "clean" data into Tableau in a proper structure that much more difficult for us.


In addition, Tableau can be bent, prodded, and juggled in all kinds of different ways if you have programming knowledge/experience.  Whether its embedding views in your own website/portal, scheduling automated Tableau Server tasks, extending the mapping capabilities, integrating Tableau with R, etc., there are all kinds of amazing things that a limited number of people are doing because they have the skill sets (or were willing to learn them).  So, as Russell stated, it certainly helps--more so if that person is going to be solely responsible for creating and maintaining the project.


And lastly, Tableau is always striving to improve the product and adds new features each release.  For instance, an upcoming release will have a user interface for connecting to data and creating joins, and this may make developers' lives a bit easier.  I expect there will be continual improvements geared toward making it easier to get the right data into Tableau.

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