“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads” – Doc Brown, 1985/2015
We’ve all got hopes about the future of technology, and they can’t all be right. Flying cars haven’t arrived, but a lot of good things have happened to make our lives easier since Christopher Lloyd uttered those infamous words about our future. So maybe time travel isn’t here, and ubiquitous flying cars aren’t quite here yet. But hey, we can’t keep our eyes away from that exciting horizon! Since the invention of computers, the future has continued to excite us nerds.
Above: An iteration on the flying car
Technology of the Future
This isn’t a big wind-up of my predictions for the future as I’ve had plenty of my own misses*. But in the same way as Back to the Future, we often hear most about the big shifts and big predictions about the future of analytics. And if we look at the last 20 years or so, data analysis has come a long way. But the majority of those wins haven’t been paradigm-shifting. In fact, some of the biggest changes are the ones we don’t much notice after they’ve arrived. It’s those small, smooth, course-adjusting changes that can put us into an analytics flow. And after spending all that time on your dashboard, you really don’t want to interrupt your audience’s flow.
*Note: “But the beauty is that once Google Wave catches on, it will replace Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook.” – Mark Bingham, 2009
This is where the concept of embedded analytics is key. It reduces the amount of effort needed for users to find a dashboard, to use the dashboard and to share the data. Embedded analytics looks like a lot of different things. It could be embedding sales analytics in your Salesforce instance. Instead of looking at info for a new lead then context-switching by logging in, searching, navigating, giving up, e-mailing your data-analyst then finally walking over to their desk a day later about a question you mostly forgot… Instead, the data is embedded. Right. There.
Or, much like the continual effort to align everyone on a single dataset, it could be a Portal. You know you saw it at our booth at TC18. What up, New Orleans! We had a snazzy version just for the conference:
Portals for Tableau
If you didn’t see our iPad Portals demo at TC18, I’m here to give you a recap. Portals give you a lot of flexibility to make your analytics shine. But Mark, how do they shine? HOW DO THEY SHINE? I’ve compiled a convenient list for you:
Portals Help You Maintain Consistency
You can customize the look and feel of your portal. This keeps you on-brand and reduces the need for users to learn Tableau naming conventions. Leave that mental space free for crunching numbers!
Improve Your Filtering
You can use web-based filters to remember users’ selections across sessions, so they can pick up where they left off more quickly. You can even work around some Tableau challenges, like creating a multi-select parameter.
Keep Your Inbox Quieter
By adding in tutorials, you can reduce the amount of “educational material” on your dashboard, thus reducing the noise. But tutorials have an easy pop-up that reminds your audience of helpful tips while browsing.
Streamline User Navigation
Take away the need for your users to learn what Projects, Dashboards and Views are on Tableau Server. All they need is a menu. Easy!
Enhance the User Experience
There are countless ways to expand your audience’s experience. Here, it’s with a fancy loading image. Maybe you want to give them the option to export a branded PowerPoint. Or maybe you want to give them helpful text about the datapoint they clicked on.
There are so many ways to use Portals and even more ways to enhance your flow with embedded analytics. It’s another quiet revolution on the march toward automation—so go ahead and take some items off your task list. Just get Portals.