Driving Successful BI Adoption and Reducing Tableau Subscription Costs by 15%
About the Customer
The Customer is one of the largest mobile operators and wireless internet providers in the United States.
A Tableau Expert Was Needed to Consolidate Enterprise BI
Over more than a decade of business growth, the Customer has accumulated massive volumes of sales and marketing data, customer, financial, and other historical business data. For business intelligence, the Customer previously relied on a data warehouse (operated via direct SQL queries) and the built-in analytics tools in its corporate ERP and CRM systems. However, these tools did not provide the required depth and granularity of reports and had limited visualization capabilities.
Looking to adopt a more insightful and comprehensive business intelligence system, the Customer selected Tableau as the optimal reporting tool. However, the Customer’s in-house BI team didn’t have a Tableau specialist with sufficient skills to create the required reports on the new platform and guide the technology adoption in the company.
Having previously commissioned ScienceSoft to develop a customer self-service portal and a partner portal, the Customer turned to us again to augment the in-house team with a certified Tableau expert.
Creating Fast-Running, User-Friendly Tableau Reports
ScienceSoft provided the Customer with a certified Senior Tableau Developer. For over two years, our expert has been building tailored Tableau reports to cover the needs of the Customer’s marketing, sales, finance, operations, and compliance departments.
To achieve faster report delivery and minimize the number of potential bugs, ScienceSoft’s developer avoids building new reports from scratch in favor of expanding the existing reports with new functionality. Our developer also identifies the cases where using Tableau is not optimal and advises the Customer’s BI team on using more time- and cost-efficient analytics tools. For instance, if a new report needs to be shared with a large user group (e.g., a whole department) but doesn’t require complex visualization or dynamic capabilities, it’s more worthwhile to build it in Microsoft SSRS instead of purchasing a Tableau license for every user that needs access to the report.
When creating Tableau reports, ScienceSoft’s developer focuses on the following two goals:
- High BI performance (with a maximum latency of a few seconds). Our developer focuses on achieving optimal, report-specific data structure. He uses the Customer’s data warehouse as the primary data source for new and expanded reports. When the DWH cannot provide sufficient data for a new report, ScienceSoft’s developer creates a task for the Customer’s data engineers to add the required data (e.g., from the Customer’s CRM, ERP) to the DWH and specifies the requirements to its structure and quality. This approach enables higher report execution speed.
- Tailored user experience. While creating reports’ UI, our developer considers the needs of a specific user group. For example, financial BI users and analysts prefer dynamic, interactive reports due to more flexible analytics capabilities (e.g., applying filters and calculation changes without IT assistance). On the other hand, the C-suite needs static reports that clearly visualize the analytics results rather than enable in-depth exploration.
As of May 2023, ScienceSoft’s developer has created 30+ reports, including:
- KPI-based reports: new customers per week, sales and revenue per customer, churn rate, forecasted revenue per customer, order delivery rate, marketing campaign conversion rate, and more.
- Fraud detection reports that identify IPs and physical addresses with too many customer enrollments per period or customers with a number of services above the defined threshold. Such reports have already helped the Customer identify malicious activity among its sales agents (e.g., unsubscribing the existing customers and re-subscribing them to receive a bonus for attracting ‘new’ customers).
Optimizing Tableau Costs and Enhancing BI Security
Apart from creating Tableau reports, ScienceSoft’s developer contributed to the improvement of the Customer’s reporting practices in the following ways:
Optimizing Tableau subscription costs
ScienceSoft’s expert analyzed the activity logs of the Customer’s Tableau users and proposed optimal role-based subscription plans for each of them (e.g., viewer, explorer, creator), which helped decrease the related expenses by up to 15%.
Integrating Tableau with Salesforce
Upon the Customer’s request, ScienceSoft’s developer integrated the Tableau solution with Salesforce. Since Tableau is distributed as a part of the Salesforce product kit, native integration through a data model was the optimal choice. With this integration in place, the Customer’s sales team can create self-service Tableau reports of low and medium complexity based on Salesforce data.
Promoting the adoption of tiered access to reports
Initially, BI users had to request access to each new Tableau report, which was inconvenient and led to the users’ reluctance to use Tableau. ScienceSoft’s developer suggested creating department-based user groups and governing access through Outlook and Active Directory. The Customer’s IT team created the user groups, and our expert added them to the Tableau Server and set up automated tiered access.
Initiating the adoption of row-level security (RLS)
The Customer has a network of independent brand distributors who receive access to a dedicated Tableau report that allows them to track their customer acquisition rates. This report is hosted on a separate Tableau server to prevent data leakage and optimize the subscription costs, since the distributors don’t require the full functionality of the main BI server. During the setup of the server, ScienceSoft’s developer suggested establishing row-level security to ensure complete data protection and further reduce the cost of the new server’s upkeep.
RLS makes it possible to define which data rows within a report will be available to a specific distributor. By applying RLS, our developer was able to create a single shared report for all distributors instead of building multiple identical reports. This approach allowed the Customer to decrease the expenses related to the creation and maintenance of distributor reports and free up ScienceSoft’s developer’s time for more complex BI tasks. In the future, the Customer is planning to add several other reports for distributors following the same technique.
Knowledge transfer and guidance for junior Tableau developers
In the past two years, the Customer hired several new Tableau developers to support its growing reporting needs. ScienceSoft’s developer helped the new team members get a confident grasp on the enterprise BI system and continues to assist them with any challenging tasks.
Successful BI Adoption and up to 15% Lower Tableau Fees
With the help of ScienceSoft’s certified Senior Tableau Developer, the Customer successfully adopted Tableau and received 30+ user-friendly and fast-running reports. The developer also implemented new security measures such as tiered access to reports and row-level security (RLS), integrated Tableau with Salesforce, and helped the Customer reduce Tableau fees by up to 15% thanks to optimizing the users’ subscription plans.
As of May 2023, the cooperation has lasted for over two years already, and the Customer continues to rely on ScienceSoft’s developer to build new reports and improve its analytics practices.
Technologies and Tools
Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server, Tableau Data Management, SQL, tabcmd