Self-Service Analytics: Tableau Explorer Licenses & Web Authoring

TESCHGlobal is proud to now be partnered with Tableau, a leader in data visualization and modern business intelligence and analytics platforms. The democratization of data has been a core theme of Tableau analytics since its founding. The company’s market leadership stems in large part to its successful development, enhancement, and deployment of tools which enable all types of users to engage, visualize, and understand their data. This innovation and evolution has enabled self-service business intelligence and analytics for a broad swath of non-technical data consumers in organizations large and small. Access to appropriate data and capabilities within a safeguarded environment empowers analysts, decision-makers, and other stakeholders to identify and leverage insights more quickly than ever before.

To that effect, in late April, Tableau announced new subscription license types: Creator, Explorer, and Viewer. While Creator includes Tableau Desktop, Tableau Prep, and Tableau Server, Explorer and Viewer both provide users with only Tableau Server access. The difference between these is that Explorer enables users to access Server’s web authoring capabilities. Whether your organization has installed Tableau Server or is on Tableau Online, the cost of the Explorer license is 40%-50% less than Creator and about 3x the cost of Viewer.

TESCHGlobal customers are assessing these new options relative to their self-service analytics requirements and financial budgets. Key factors we recommend you consider before selecting a license include:

1.     Users’ Analytics Maturity

2.     Data Preparation

3.     Tableau Analytics Program Maturity

4.     Subscription Costs

Users’ Analytics Maturity

As the old adage goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Organizational leaders must discern whether their teams are ready and willing to engage with a modern analytics platform such as Tableau. Being able to think both strategically and practically in order to solve current and forthcoming challenges via data analytics is a skill that must be groomed and nurtured; the rear-view mirror of “reporting” has been replaced.

With exposure to the platform, empowerment to act, and sufficient training/support, licensed and authorized users can now leverage many of the powers of Tableau via Tableau Server/Online’s web browser. While not yet on par with Tableau Desktop (see examples below), Web Authoring does provide a broad, core set of capabilities for many analytical objectives and the framework for self-service analytics at scale. It is important to gauge your users’ readiness and skills, and to provide ample training and support where and when needed.

Data Preparation

The April release of Tableau 2018.1 comes with an expansion of Web Authoring’s capabilities to include connections to SQL, Excel files, and a variety of other data sources. This builds upon the previous availability of published data sources via Tableau Data Server (a component of Tableau Server/Online). Regardless of your connection, data must be well-prepared for self-service analytics. This includes data governance/stewardship (ideally via certified data sources published to Tableau) and the standardization of calculations, field names, field values (groups/aliases), hierarchies, and other aspects of your data. These considerations should NOT be left to self-service web authors to discern and determine. Also note that published data sources should ideally form your “One Source of the Truth” for analytics; in our view this is one of the least-appreciated and deployed aspects of Tableau Server. Once data sources are published, self-service web authors potentially may edit copies of calculations and dimensional groups; this should be monitored and strongly discouraged in order to avoid multiple versions of the “truth.”

Tableau Analytics Program Maturity

From our perspective, self-service web authoring of analytics should be seen as an “add-on” layer of capabilities to provide the “right” types of users with an ad-hoc development tool. Your core, foundational Tableau analytics program should by-and-large be developed by your organization’s “Creator” class of licensed users. These are the individuals who possess the hybrid skills and knowledge spanning your data sources, business requirements/use case objectives, and data/user security model. It is critical to fully empower those roles, wherever they may sit in your organization, for as long as your Tableau analytics program is under development. Given the volume of analytical targets and pace of change in most businesses, we very much doubt whether any organization would ever “make due” with self-service Explorers alone. Rather, we recommend clients utilize Tableau web authoring to leverage their program’s foundation in addressing short-term objectives and ad-hoc questions without diverting Creators from larger initiatives.

Subscription Costs

Explorer’s 40%-50% savings from the Creator license is substantial. If your team members are ready, willing, and empowered to take action in terms of self-service web authoring, this is money well spent (or saved, as the case may be). However, be careful not to be penny-wise and pound foolish. If certain users are hungry to develop with Creator licenses, we recommend that you feed that passion and enable them accordingly. The ROI should be there. Conversely, if certain users seem to be out of their league in terms of their skills, needs, or time for Tableau web authoring, it is best to assign them Viewer licenses.

Final Notes

Whether your organization selects a Creator, Explorer, or Viewer license, be sure to understand your users’ current readiness and skill sets to ensure you choose the right option for your team and budget. In addition, it’s vitally important to certify the data you are utilizing is accurate and accessible to confirm you are gaining the right insights to make better-informed business decisions.

To discuss your Tableau strategy and objectives, contact us today.

Sample Illustrations of Tableau Web Authoring vs. Tableau Desktop Differences

 Web Authoring: No Parameter Creation from published data sources

Web Authoring: No Parameter Creation from published data sources

 Axis Editing equivalent between Web Authoring and Tableau Desktop

Axis Editing equivalent between Web Authoring and Tableau Desktop

 Groups: Editing of copies from published data sources in Web Authoring

Groups: Editing of copies from published data sources in Web Authoring

 Dashboard layout in Web Authoring: Limited height (browser window), no Device Preview, no Images

Dashboard layout in Web Authoring: Limited height (browser window), no Device Preview, no Images

 No map layers in Web Authoring

No map layers in Web Authoring