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What is Tableau Pulse?

·1458 words·7 mins
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Pablo Sáenz de Tejada
Pablo Sáenz de Tejada
I help people analyze, visualyze and communicate with data.
Table of Contents

If you are part of the analytics and BI World, you’ve probably know Tableau, and probably you have recently heard about Tableau Pulse but, what exactly is Tableau Pulse?

What is Tableau Pulse?

Tableau Pulse is a new experience in the use of data in a daily basis. Offers custom insights automatically created with artificial intelligence with one main objective: make it easier for people to use and take decisions with data. But with something key in mind: make it easier for everyone and not just the people with high data skills.

Allows also to filter and customize the metrics we care most about in our daily jobs with a couple of clicks to fit each person’s needs needs (the region I care about in my organization, the product I manage, my customers, etc) and make further questions to those metrics to not only answer what is happening? but also the why is happening.

Tableau Pulse
Tablau Pulse

One of the main advantages of Tableau Pulse is that it’s very easy and fast to get set it up and also start getting valuable information from the first day. But, as many services with AI capabilities, it-s only available in Cloud environments, and if we are talking about Tableau this means it’s only available for Tableau Cloud, and not for Tableau Server.

Tableau’s new metrics layer

Until today Tableau didn’t have a proper centralized metrics layer. It’s true that we used to have “metrics” in Tableau but it was not used much in general. Tableau Pulse and the new metrics layer it allows us to create is here to improve fix this gap. Allowing us to create a layer of defined metrics that can be used across any organization to keep track of the metrics we care more about.

One interesting thing of the new metrics layer is that we can create those metrics from our existing Tableau Publish Datasources. That’s why getting value from Tableau Pulse is so quick and straightforward. If you have a Published Datasource with measures you need to track in a daily, weekly or monthly basis and some dimensions you want to use to slice and dice that measure, you can have meaningful AI-based insights in a few minutes.

When you create a new Metric you can define the dimensions to be available for the user to filter, slice the data and get insights. Select the period more meaningful for the metric (weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly) and the comparison period (vs previous period or same period of the previous year).

Tableau's new metrics layer
Tableau’s new metrics layer

If you think about the company you work for, your department, our your role, probably you can quickly come up with 4 or 5 metrics that are important to be aware of in order to run your daily tasks. If you work in the private sector those metrics might be something like: my monthly sales, the quarterly satisfaction of my customers, the daily number of support cases still open in our customer support service or the current stock of the products I manage.

If you work in the public sector, maybe those metrics are: the weekly number of calls received in our citizen attention service, the number of incidents in our public transport network or the budget avaiable for a concrete department.

Working for an NGO? then maybe it’s key for you to get insights about how is evolving the number of new donors, the current month donations compared to last month or the number of volunteers you have in your network to make sure it’s in the right path.

Once you have your metric created, it’s then available for other users so they can subscribe to it and get daily insights automatically, but they can also adjust it to their needs easily: filtering by a country, a list of products, or any other dimension they want. Then, every person can have an overview of all their metrics in the main page of Tableau Pulse and keep track easily of what they care most about in one single view.

All metrics offer information about the metrics current value in the selected period, the percent change against the comparison period and, the most important thing insights, generated by AI and shown in natural language to easily understand what is happening, where or why and take action.

Information provided by a Tableau Pulse metric
Information provided by a Tableau Pulse metric.

Insights in natural language generated with IA

Those insights generated by IA in natural language are the key of the ease of use of Tableau Pulse and the main benefit for everybody in an organization. When Tableau Pulse detects an insight specifically important, it’s shown to the user with the metric without requiring any action from the user. Showing also the information and context in an easy to understand chart with a detailed explanation included.

Tableau Pulse IA insights
Tableau Pulse IA insights.

Additionally, with just a click, it allows the user to dig in the data and answer additional questions related to the metric. Offering today 8 types of insights or questions:

Period over Period Change

Shows how a metric has changed between two periods. Highlights the change between a metric value for a recent time range compared to an equivalent time range in a prior period or the past.

Risky Monopoly

Shows when a small number of dimension members make up a majority (50% or more) of the contribution to a metric.

Top Contributors

Shows the highest values in a dimension for a metric within a given time range.

Bottom Contributors

Shows the lowest values in a dimension for a metric within a given time range.

Top Drivers

Shows values for dimension members that changed the most in the same direction as the observed change in the metric.

Top drivers are analyzed using metric values from two separate but equivalent time ranges to look for changes to the contributions in the same direction of the change made by dimension members.

Top Detractors

Shows values for dimension members that changed the most in the opposite direction to the observed change in the metric.

Top Detractors example
Top Detractors example.

Unusual Change

Shows when the value of a metric for a given time range is higher or lower than the expected range based on historic observations of the metric.

New Trend Detected

Shows new trends that vary significantly from the current trend. This insight communicates the rate of change, direction, and fluctuations for the metric value.

New Trend Detected example
New Trend Detected example.

Relevant information in the flow of work

One of the main barriers for the open and wide use of data in organizations is that normally we need to change between screens and applications. This causes frustration and makes it difficult to make decisions based on data. To reduce those frictions, Tableau Pulse allows to embed those metrics and insights in the flow of work of our teams. Nowadays we can share the information provided through Slack, Email.

Insights in the flow of work
Insights in the flow of work.

But not only that. We can also embed metrics and insights in our platforms, portals and websites. As Tableau Pulse it’s designed to access the information through the Tableau Pulse API. With the API we can embed metrics wherever we need to make it easier to use and share insights in the applications where users spend most of their time.

A complement to traditional dashboards

Does this mean dashboards and reports are dead? I don’t think so. But probably Tableau Pulse make it easier to answer a big portion of the questions we need to answer in a daily basis, in an easier way and more clear. While more complex dashboards will still be there to answer more complex questions and go deeper into the data.

Most people needs to answer concrete and direct questions in their daily jobs. Questions like: How are my product sales doing this quarter compared to the same quarter last year, and what explains the current situation? Are we getting more orders than the previous month? Is my customer’s satisfaction going down? In which regions? These types of questions can be answered much easier and faster with Tableau Pulse.

Personally, I have to admit that since I started using Tableau Pulse to track some of the metrics I want (based on personal data I tracked like number of hours slept each day, days per week I’m exercising, days per month that I keep certain habits, like reading, learning new things, etc), it has been enough to understand what and why things were happening the 90% of the time. And the amount of times I needed to go to a more busy dashboard has reduced significantly and to answer more complex questions or analyze the data further.