How to do Anomaly Detection in Tableau

Tableau Anomaly Detection FeatureI think we’ve all been there… we are sharing a meaningful story we found in the data, only to have our end users get hung up on a previous peak or valley in our visualization. This often derails the conversation at hand and/or prevents our audience from hearing the rest of our message and/or reduces our chances of causing action.

One of the biggest challenges we face as data visualization practitioners is helping our end users avoid distraction. When our end users get distracted, it makes it more challenging to communicate the story in the data and our recommended actions. Ironically, one of the reasons users get distracted is because visualizing data makes it much easier to spot points of interest. Unfortunately, just because something may pique interest, it is not always relevant to the conversation.

This post shares an approach with the accompanying formula to do anomaly detection in Tableau. With anomaly detection, you’re able to focus in on the data points that matter and have a statistical explanation for your end users to help avoid distracting conversations.

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Hear My Interview with the Tableau Wanna Be Podcast at TC London 2017

Tableau Wanna Be Podcast FeatureThe Tableau Conference On Tour: London just wrapped up last week, and I’m grateful to have been there for the first time. As with the US conference, the event was packed with networking, big-name keynotes, enlightening customer stories – and of course – a huge party. I can’t possibly do a proper conference review justice, but if you’re interested, here is a great TC17 London review from a new friend, Louise Shorten.

For me, the biggest highlights were hearing where Tableau is going next (and by the end of this year!), catching up with some old friends, and making some new ones. There was a down-to-earth and accessible vibe reminiscent of my very first Tableau conference in San Diego (2012). Thanks to everyone I spoke with for the warm welcome and conversations.

One of those conversations was with Matt Francis and Emily Kund of the Tableau Wanna Be Podcast. I have been a longtime fan of both Matt and Emily, as well as a longtime listener of their podcast – which just crossed the 100-episode milestone. In the 25-minute interview below, you can expect to hear the following…

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How to Turn Data Normalization On and Off in Tableau

Tableau Normalization Toggle FeatureData normalization is the process of adjusting values from different scales to a common scale, providing a better “apples to apples” comparison of the values. For example, looking at varying metrics like ‘total cheeseburgers eaten per year by US state’, ‘total high fives given per year by US state’, and ‘total vacation days taken per year by US state’, will likely show that California leads the way in all three categories. This makes it sound like California is the best place to be in the US, and maybe it is, but these results are most likely due to California having the highest population (i.e. more people around to give each other high fives).

A better analysis would be to figure out how many high fives are given per person per year by US state. There are several ways to normalize data in Tableau including changing the aggregation of a measure, creating a calculated 100-point index, or setting a common baseline. There are also times when it’s valuable to see the raw, unnormalized numbers so our end users have the context of the original scales.

This post shares a method for (1) normalizing data and (2) providing you and your end users the ability to toggle the normalization on and off.

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What a Lamp Reminded Me About Data Visualization User Experience

What a Lamp Reminded Me About User Experience in Data Visualization FeatureSome of the best data visualization and business lessons I’ve learned have come from seemingly unrelated experiences. For example, during a reading exercise in sixth grade, I learned to always know the measurement of success. During a typing contest in seventh grade, I learned that if something seems off, it probably is. By the way, stay tuned for more from that series of data visualization tips I learned before I was a teenager because it’s amazing how often this happens.

There are other times when everyday life experiences remind me of some of my thoughts on data visualization and firm my stance on my preferred techniques. I’m sharing one of those recent experiences and a very important data visualization user experience reminder.

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How to Make a Timeline in Tableau

Tableau Timeline FeatureTimelines are not an out-of-the-box chart type in Tableau, but they can serve several practical purposes for your analyses and user experience. First, a timeline in Tableau can be used as a method for showing end users when notable events occurred in the business. For example, you can provide context by lining up a timeline of marketing promotions with a trend line to see when spikes align with your marketing efforts.

Second, a timeline can be used as a calendar showing upcoming dates of interest. In both use cases, you can use (1) a relative date filter in Tableau to dynamically display a subset of dates and (2) add dashboard actions to link to more information about notable events / dates on the timeline.

This tutorial shares how to make a timeline in Tableau and how to add an optional reference line to display the current day.

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