Northwest Tableau User Group – 30th Sept 2019

Bit of a write up about our user group in September! #NWTUG

2 weeks on from our 6th official Tableau Northwest User Group and I am still buzzing from the fact that we had just over 100 #tableau enthusiasts in attendance! What’s probably more impressive is that we had 148 people register their interest to attend, the northwest community is certainly growing!

I have already written a blog about how much I love running the user groups so I will try not to repeat myself. But I can’t write this blog without saying how much I love these events. It’s great to get the opportunity to set these up with Lorna and Colin. My biggest love is bringing people together; watching people, with similar interests and views, connect is just brilliant.

We alternate between evening groups and day time groups in order to suit everyone’s preferences, we understand that not everyone can make the evening ones and we can fit so much more into a full day session. The user group on the 30th was no exception to this, we had a rammed pack agenda. Despite some unexpected changes in the line up a few days before the event Lorna (#absolutelegend) managed to work her magic and fill a couple of spots with some great people.

So after squeezing everyone into the room in the Tech Incubator (great venue!) on Oxford Road in Manchester we introduced ourselves and the day. First up we had Carl Allchin (@datajedininja) from the Information Lab talking about Tableau Prep, great to hear this new (ish) Tableau functionality explained so well. Did you know there is a Tableau prep weekly challenge run by Carl and Jonathan Allenby, which is really useful for honing your prep skills? Check it out; the site has challenges and blogs to help you: www.preppindata.blogspot.com

After Carl we welcomed Lucy Tiffany (@lucytiffany) who I am proud to say is one of my amazing colleagues from Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust. This was Lucy’s first time presenting at a user group, and she absolutely smashed it, demonstrating some really useful top tips for beginners and beyond. Lucy has had loads of great feedback from the attendees, so reckon you will be seeing her at other user groups soon! Lucy has published her top tips to her Tableau public site: https://public.tableau.com/profile/lucy.tiffany#!/vizhome/TopTipsforBeginners-NWTUG30092019/Dashboard1

Carl Slifer from Interworks was up next talking about user experience, which I think sometimes does get overlooked when us data people are busy concentrating on the data visualisation. He talked about making sure that you make the Tableau Server work to help our data consumers navigate and view the data they want. It is really key to keeping them engaged! Lots of food for the thought from Carl.

After some real practical Tableau talks we next heard from Amy Rider of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) presenting on JLR’s Tableau journey and how she is helping to grow their data driven culture. Amy talked about the challenges that seem to be common in all sectors and businesses, so easy to relate to wherever you are from. Amy also talked about using the server admin stats to really understand her data consumers, and make sure they are delivering what people want and need! It is always brilliant to have a mixture of presentations to play to the different preferences of our attendees. I love this type of presentation as someone who is leading on the data culture for Pennine Care, so got some great ideas from Amy’s talk to take back to work! Thanks Amy!!

After 4 presentations it was definitely time for lunch! As more people turned up than we quite expected (not that we thought no one would turn up to the party but we will always be anxious about this!) we didn’t quite order enough food, but luckily Caroline Yam from Tableau was on hand to sort this out and stock us up!! Thanks Caroline – you are an absolute star…nothing worse than hungry data people!!

I kicked off the afternoon with my second favourite thing to Tableau a Kahoot quiz! We had two rounds, a data themed quiz and then because we were in Manchester I designed a Manchester quiz (who knew that Manchester was the birth place of Vegetarianism!). This gave us opportunity to give away some Tableau swag to the lucky quiz winners. Who knew that a data cap would be so sought after!!

Craig Bloodworth (@craigbloodworth) from the Information Lab then led a session on the new features of Tableau. He kicked off his presentation by finding out what version of Tableau everyone was on! He got everyone standing up, and only let them sit down when he said their current Tableau version. I am afraid to say that myself and Lorna and a few others were left standing when he got to 10.4! Oh how we dream of the later versions!! Amongst other things Craig used York Housing prices to demonstrate the new spacial features in Tableau. So impressive! And interesting to find out that Craig’s number one criteria for choosing a new house is that it must be within a mile of his favourite restaurant! Craig also mentioned the new tagging functionality in Tableau Public to allow users to tag who inspired them and include # so that when people are searching for specific initiatives or themes they can easily find them! Craig’s session was rammed packed with loads of useful information about the new features, which was excellent.

I think the highlight of the day has to be our final session from the dataviz legend Andy Kirk (@visualisingdata)! So whilst the attendees had been nicely watching from their seats all day (apart from a little finger exercise doing Kahoot), Andy wasn’t going to let them get away with not taking part in the day. Andy’s session definitely woke everyone up. His session was about thinking about thinking. Andy picked teams with help from his lovely assistant Lorna to take on a number of challenges including getting teams to analyse a receipt (who knew there was so much to look at, and that Andy’s favourite chocolate bar is a Mars bar?!). His mission was to get people really thinking about the things they need to consider when truly analysing data. After 3 challenges we had the finalists! The final teams had to come up with ways to classify Randoms (yes the soft and chewy yummy sweets!). The most unusual classification would win! The competitors took this very seriously, huddling over the sweets debating all the things they could about the sweets! Genius activity!!

The winning team won because they came up with a classification of whether the sweet was something they could drive in?! Yes its ‘random’! What a brilliant way to end a brilliant day!

Oh it would be wrong of me not to promote Andy’s new book – available I am sure in all good book retailers! www.visualisingdata.com

After a swift post TUG drink with a few of the hard core attendees, I headed home buzzing about another amazing TUG, thinking about how we can make the next one even better! Myself, Lorna and Colin are now busy planning the next one, likely to be an evening event at end of November! Watch this space!!

If you fancy speaking at a future group then please let one of us know! It can be any Tableau/data related topic that you think others may find useful. We would love to hear your data story!!

Hope you enjoyed my blog and hopefully we’ll see you at a future TUG!