An Introduction to Tableau

An Introduction to Tableau

An Introduction to Tableau

What is Tableau?

Tableau Software provides the tools organizations need to transform massive volumes of business-generated data into digestible, understandable, and actionable information. The sheer volume of data generated by modern businesses on customers, transactions, and operations is staggering and mostly incomprehensible unless properly processed and analyzed. A study from Accenture and Qlik shows that, while businesses of all types can find value in data analytics, only 87% believe that data is an asset for their organization. Tableau Software’s stated mission is to provide the tools your business needs to make all that data useful, informative, and ultimately valuable.

Tableau provides the tools organizations need to transform massive volumes of business-generated data into digestible, understandable, and actionable information–the kind of information business decision makers can use to form strategies and plan operations. Tableau’s analytical tools revolve around data visualization and its ability to make data understandable to everyone in your business.

In this introduction to Tableau Software, we will discuss some of the basic features found in the suite of applications. Subsequent articles in the series about Tableau will provide detailed tutorials on how to create projects in Tableau, explore advanced features, connect to various data sources, and develop data visualization dashboards for your business.

Tableau Products

  • Tableau Desktop
  • Tableau Server
  • Tableau Online
  • Tableau Prep
  • Tableau CRM
  • Tableau Public

 Tableau Desktop

 Tableau Desktop is considered by many to be the gold standard in data visualization tools. Its power and ease of use encourage data exploration. It includes interactive workbooks and dashboards to help users uncover insights as questions or hunches arise and to make discovery easy via visual patterns.

Tableau Server

Tableau Server enables users to publish the dashboards they created in Tableau Desktop. It makes it easy to securely distribute interactive workbooks to the right stakeholders (integration with Active Directory, Kerberos, OAuth), thereby making sharing and collaboration simple and decision making more participatory. Tableau server allows users to publish and share their data sources as live connections or extracts. It connects to more than 100 data sources including MapR’s Converged Data Platform, SAP Hana,, Marketo and more. Administrators can easily track and manage content, users, licenses, and performance as well as manage permissions for data sources and content and monitor usage visually. It is available for deployment on-premises or in the public cloud.

Tableau Online

Tableau Online is your analytics platform fully hosted in the cloud. Publish dashboards and share your discoveries with anyone. Invite colleagues or customers to explore hidden opportunities with interactive visualizations and accurate data. All easily accessible from a browser or on the go with our mobile apps. Tableau Online is a fully hosted solution, so you’ll never have to configure servers, manage software upgrades, or scale hardware capacity.

Tableau Prep

Tableau Prep changes the way traditional data prep is performed in an organization. By providing a visual and direct way to combine, shape and clean data, Tableau Prep makes it easier for analysts and business users to start their analysis, faster. Tableau Prep consists of two products: Tableau Prep Builder for building your data flows, and Tableau Prep Conductor for scheduling, monitoring and managing flows across the organization. If you want to edit a value, you select and directly edit. Change your join type, and see the result right away. With each action, you instantly see your data change, even on millions of rows of data. Tableau Prep Builder gives you the freedom to reorder steps and experiment without consequence.

Tableau CRM

Tableau CRM empowers your Salesforce CRM users with actionable insights and AI-driven analytics right in their workflow. Work more efficiently, spot trends faster, predict outcomes, and get AI-based guidance on the best steps to take while you stay in the flow.

Tableau Public

Tableau Public is a free platform to explore, create and publicly share data visualizations online. With the largest repository of data visualizations in the world to learn from, Tableau Public makes developing data skills easy. Advance your career in analytics by learning from limitless data inspiration and creating an online portfolio of work. With millions of interactive data visualizations made by over a million creators around the world, Tableau Public allows you to explore the art of the possible with data on any topic. Tableau Public is the largest repository of data visualizations in the world.

Visualizations on Tableau Public can be downloaded or explored in a browser. Quickly see how it was created, and make a version of your own. Start now by creating a free Tableau Public profile.

Why to use Tableau?

Data is growing faster than ever. With the proliferation of the internet, we now generate even more information. According to IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day! However, less than 0.5% of it is ever analyzed and used. Analyzing this vast amount of data is a tedious and complex task. Therefore, companies leverage BI tools to uncover crucial business metrics.

While there are many business intelligence and data visualization tools available today, Tableau has been the leader in the data visualization space for 6 years.

Quick and Interactive Visualizations

Specializing in beautiful visualizations, Tableau offers instantaneous insights with simple drag-and-drop-features, thus helping you easily analyze key data and share crucial insights. Tableau is a lot more creative than you think! Here are some stunning data visualization examples from across the web.

Easy to Use

Compared to other BI tools, Tableau lets you create rich visualizations in just a few seconds. It lets you perform complex tasks with simple drag-and-drop functionalities, hence answering your questions in no time!

Auto Updates

Get access to fresh data using a live connection to your database or schedule automatic updates.

Share Instantly

Publish dashboards & share live updates on web & mobile in just a few clicks.

Smart Dashboards

Get rich data insights with the help of visualization using powerful dashboards.

Tableau Pricing

Tableau’s pricing is available in three subscription options: Tableau Creator ($70/user/month), Tableau Explorer ($35/user/month), and Tableau Viewer ($12/user/month). Each account includes maintenance, product upgrades, and support in one cost, so there are no surprise fees.

Tableau Creator

Tableau Creator is designed for individual analysts and power users, and costs $70 per user, per month (billed annually). It includes access to Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep, as well as one Creator license for either Tableau Server or Tableau Online. Note that the Creator price is the same, regardless if Tableau is deployed in the cloud or on-premise.

As the name implies creator licenses are meant for those people who are responsible for creating and distributing reports in your organization. Those who are responsible for performing ad-hoc analysis to gain access to key business insights and trends. Quite often these are created on an excel sheet and shared with multiple stakeholders via email or a shared drive. Usually, this process is cumbersome, chaotic & error-prone.

Tableau Explorer

It costs $35 per user, per month (billed annually) if deployed on-premise and includes one license to Tableau Server. If deployed in the cloud, this plan costs $42 per user per month (billed annually) and includes one license to Tableau Online.

Explorers are meant for all modern users who want to dive deeper into the data and find answers to the most pressing questions. Those who want to come outside the confines of static reports and seek answers to important questions at the drop of a hat. Often, these professionals relied heavily on legacy software and excel sheets to gain actionable insights. But, the entire process was leading to multiple complexities in terms of errors, confusion, and conflicts.

Tableau Viewer

Tableau Viewer is designed for users that just want to access – but not have to create – dashboards and visualizations. When deployed on-premise, it costs $12 per user, per month (billed annually) and includes one viewer license to Tableau Server. When deployed in the cloud, it costs $15 per user, per month (billed annually) and includes one viewer license to Tableau Online. Note that Tableau requires a minimum of 100 viewers for this tier.

This license type is for the Viewers in your organization. Viewers are the ones who use data to make actionable business decisions. These viewers could be anyone in your organization. They need data to rest their analysis of facts and figures. Viewers can be anyone from a team member to business managers to CEO who wants to gain a 360 view of the business.


An emerging and complementary tool of data analysis is data visualization in order to envision the relationships and then communicate those relationships convincingly to others. Tableau is a widely-used data visualization tool, yet in the economics of education literature, there are only a handful of exemplary research projects illustrating data visualization and none for Tableau. Tableau connects and extracts the data stored in various places. It can pull data from any platform imaginable. The spreadsheet application used for manipulating the data while Tableau is a perfect visualization tool used for analysis.

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