What are Tableau Reporting Tools? How it Works and Benefits

Tableau is a business intelligence tool with data visualisation and reporting capabilities that assist large enterprises in making robust, data-driven decisions. Approximately 64,336 companies use Tableau worldwide. It blends data from different sources to deliver meaningful insights and trends.

It enables intuitive data exploration through drag-and-drop functions, filtering and natural language queries. Adept at ample customisation options, it offers excellent control over data visualisation, allowing the users to create dashboards and stories to convey business narratives effectively.

Tableau Benefits and Features

The Benefits of Tableau Include:

  • Powerful Data Visualisation: It processes unstructured data to create powerful data visualisations in charts, maps and graphs and displays them in interactive, visually appealing dashboards.
  • Connect to Data Sources: It connects to various data sources, whether on-premise or on a cloud. It can access and combine disparate data sources such as SQL databases, spreadsheets, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or cloud apps like Google Analytics and Salesforce.
  • Data Preparation: It leverages Machine Learning algorithms‘ powerful capabilities to clean the data and eliminates the need for manual data processing. The Prep Builder tool provides useful recommendations for smarter and efficient data cleaning and preparation.
  • Natural Language Processing: Natural Language Processing enables users to ask questions using the ‘Ask Data’ feature and interact with data in Natural Language and get responses in data visualisations.
  • Interactive Dashboards: It helps build responsive dashboards that can be customised as per the business needs. It displays valuable metrics, KPIs and stats on the dashboards that can be shared within a team or with clients, enabling them to explore the data on their terms.

The Essential and Unique Features of Tableau are:

  • VizQL: Tableau leverages a powerful query language known as VizQL to create interactive and sophisticated visualisations using simple drag-and-drop functions. A traditional analysis tool such as Excel forces users to clean and analyse the data, choose the data subset, represent the data in the form of rows and columns, and then create a chart or graph. However, VizQL skips these steps and creates an interactive visualisation straight off using the existing data.
  • Advanced-Data Engine: A high-performance in-memory data engine helps users efficiently analyse large complex datasets. It evaluates analytical queries directly in the transactional database to achieve faster query execution.

How Does Tableau Work?

Tableau connects and extracts data from a wide variety of databases, including simple ones such as Excel or complex ones like Microsoft Azure, SQL, Salesforce, etc. When Tableau is launched, the readily available data connectors allow users to connect to any database. The number of data connectors varies depending on the version of Tableau purchased.

The data can either be connected live, directly to the source to perform real-time data analysis or, it can be extracted into Tableau’s data engine called Tableau Desktop. Tableau Desktop provides an interface for users to clean and explore data and create dynamic visualisations and dashboards. These dashboards can be shared with other users as static files that can be viewed on Tableau Reader.

Tableau Reporting Tools

Tableau reporting tools enable users to create and share dashboards and reports with team members within the organisation to facilitate data-driven decisions. The dashboards and reports reflect the current state of the business and enable users to make accurate predictions based on current trends.

Tableau reporting tools comprise of:

  • Tableau Desktop
  • Tableau Public
  • Tableau Online
  • Tableau Server
  • Tableau Reader

The tableau reporting tools on a higher level are classified as:

Developer Tools: The tools used for development, such as creating visualisations, dashboards, charts and reports, are classified as developer tools. Tableau Desktop and Tableau Public fall under this category.

Sharing Tools: The tools used for sharing visualisations, reports and dashboards created using the development platform are called sharing tools. Tableau Online, Server and Reader fall under this category.

Let’s take a glance at each of these products one by one:

1. Tableau Desktop

Tableau Desktop, one of the tableau reporting tools, has a rich set of features that enables users to create and customise compelling charts, graphs, dashboards and reports. From creating visualisations to placing them all on a dashboard and filtering data to drill-down capabilities, all the essential steps are carried out on Tableau Desktop. 

The live data connection to disparate data sources provided by Tableau Desktop facilitates real-time visual analytics to fuel unlimited data exploration. The interactive dashboards help users uncover hidden insights, patterns and trends to make data-driven business decisions. It allows users to build powerful calculations from existing data, make robust forecasts and create statistical summaries. It also performs advanced analytics such as regressions and correlations on a given dataset.

Depending on the connectivity and publishing options, Tableau desktop is further classified as Tableau Desktop Personal and Tableau Desktop Professional.

2. Tableau Public

Tableau Public, another of the tableau reporting tools, is a Tableau version specifically built for users looking to collaborate with team members and other Tableau users. The workbooks thus created cannot be saved locally; they should instead be saved to Tableau’s public cloud, which can be viewed and accessed by anybody who has access permission.

However, the files saved to the cloud don’t guarantee security as anybody can download and access them. With the largest data visualisations repository available, Tableau Public facilitates developing data skills easily and exploring limitless possibilities with data.

3. Tableau Server

Tableau Server is specifically designed to share workbooks created in Tableau Desktop across an organisation. To share dashboards on the Tableau Server, the user-created work must be published on the Tableau Desktop first. Once it has been uploaded to the server, it can be made accessible only to licenced users.

Licenced users don’t have to have Tableau Server installed on their machines. They need the login credentials to access the server from their browser to download reports. Tableau Server provides a highly secured environment for quick and effective data sharing within the organisation.

It empowers the business to explore data in a trusted environment without limitations. It ensures the reports shared within the confines of an organisation are governed, secured and accurate. It also enables users to publish and share data sources as live connections or encrypted extracts for use within the organisation. 

4. Tableau Online

Tableau Online is a fully cloud-hosted solution that doesn’t require users to configure servers, manage software upgrades and scale the hardware capacity to accommodate new business requirements. There is no limit on the data that can be published on Tableau Online.

It is an analytics platform that enables users to publish dashboards and share discoveries, trends and insights with anyone. It also allows users to invite team members to explore data and unearth opportunities. It can be accessed via a browser on a desktop, tablet or another mobile device.

5. Tableau Reader

Tableau Reader is a desktop application that is available free of cost. Users can leverage it to view and interact with data visualisations created on Tableau Desktop or Tableau Public. The data in Tableau Reader can be filtered, but editing and modifying the data is prohibited. On the other hand, security isn’t guaranteed as the workbook can be accessed by anyone.

Conclusion

Tableau reporting tools help users connect to various advanced data sources and create interactive visualisations to identify trends, insights and patterns within a dataset to make data-driven decisions with utmost confidence. The tableau reporting tools enable users to create and share visualisations across the organisation to facilitate collaboration. Intuitive visualisations created with the help of development tools reflect the current state of an organisation that can be leveraged to make accurate predictions. 

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