A POC On Both Your Houses

Back to the Tableau conundrum. As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the first things I was tasked with was to fast-track the Implementation of Tableau Server — not evaluate self-serve reporting tools in general or even whether Tableau is a good choice for our company. In fact the deal was to just get the server up and running and hand it over to the business. They are so desperate for reporting that they volunteered to administer the server themselves because they were told IT has no bandwidth.

Okay then. Which battle to pick? I could make a good case for doing nothing and telling everyone to wait for me to get up to speed. It wouldn’t go over well and there would be a lot of pressure to make a commitment to an alternative solution, which I’m not really prepared to do. But I think I could win the argument. No doubt some will say this is what I should do. Slow things down. Understand requirements. Make a deliberate, informed choice.

Well I didn’t do that. I also didn’t completely give in and let the user community go it alone. Instead, I argued that the BI team has to own the company’s reporting tools. So we are going to administer the server. Also, instead of making an immediate purchase for as many users as possible (so we can get a volume discount on the licenses, also part of the original “plan”), we are going to run in proof-of-concept mode for a while using Tableau’s free trial with a limited number of users.

The trial period will show us what it’s really like to run the product, in particular, how useful the Viewer license is compared to the Interactor license. There’s a big difference in price — $200 versus $1000. The Viewer license does not allow you to do the very cool visual slicing and dicing that makes Tableau such a sexy product. It only presents data in a  static form. For the fancy stuff, you have to pay $1000 a seat (before volume discounts).  The Viewer license may not be worth purchasing. We’ll see. I’ll report back on this issue in a couple of weeks when the POC is wrapping  up.

By the way, this experience has reminded me that I’m mad at BI product vendors, especially the “new paradigm” guys like Tableau and QlikView. They make great looking products and market directly to my internal business customers telling them that IT is an obstacle and that if only IT would give them the right tools and get out of the way, they would realize all their analytical dreams. I take being called an obstacle personally.


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