Tableau – The Supporter of Data Governance?
At the Tableau Conference 2016 last week, Tableau announced a number of interesting new features in development across its products (see blog). One that will particularly interest the Data Governors is Certified Data.
Now, Data Governors have not always been great fans of Tableau in their organisations. They have often seen its users as disruptive, taking data from governed sources, combining it with other data from goodness knows where, creating calculations that the Data Governance team have no visibility of, and producing a new, more visual version of Excel Hell. Whereas Tableau have often pitched themselves as pioneers of complete self-service BI, bringing the power of analytics to the masses and freeing them from the shackles of IT data release life-cycles.
In reality, the majority of organisations want and need a balance of the two. Most companies have core business data that has broad use and common definition across departments within the organisation. It is important that this data is standardised and made available consistently to the business. However, it is also important for analysts to be able to enrich their analysis with additional sources. The difficulty arises when multiple analysts use the same external data sources to create similar calculations in different ways. There is no easy way to govern this data or the calculations people are generating or ensuring people are using a consistent and agreed calculation for the same measure.
As a recognition of this typical requirement, Tableau are introducing Certified Content which allows users to recognise which datasets and fields are part of the certified data model guaranteed by the Data Governance team and which are user deployed or calculated. Tableau Server reports will be available for Data Governance to identify which dashboards and workbooks are using which extracts and fields, and whether they are certified or not.
Tableau knows that a lot of valuable business measures are generated by business users, who are closer to the needs and requirements of the business than the people looking after the data. This is why users will be able to submit calculations for certification. The Data Governance team will be able to assess the calculations as well as identify whether other business users are using the calculations within other dashboards. Following an agreed process, this calculation can then be certified.
In combination with the upcoming Sandbox feature, which allows users to experiment in an area that will not affect other users, this will bring a powerful capability for Data Governance and the business users to work a lot closer together, without the business users feeling like Data Governance is restricting their ability to perform analysis and allowing Data Governance to have a process to assess and govern the data that a Tableau work is based on. Organisations of all sizes will definitely appreciate and implement these features once they are released.