Tableau is a fantastic tool, one you can use to quickly get answers to a vast array of questions using data visualisation. However many of our clients report that they still spend a lot of their time getting their data into the right format to work well in Tableau. Sometimes this is because the data is stuck in badly formatted Excel files, or perhaps it is stored in multiple, disparate files (e.g. one for each year), or maybe it is in a format that Tableau cannot natively connect to, such as JSON. These customers report data formatting and data quality is their biggest problem.

Tableau also likes it's data in certain formats, usually you can work easier with a dataset if you have a single date dimension for example, rather than a copy of each measure for each year (i.e. Tableau prefers an ‘unpivoted’ structure). This can be a significant challenge to overcome if you don't have the right tools. 

Tableau has recognised that this is a common challenge and is working towards making things easier. They maintain an excellent knowledge article on the subject, which is often extremely useful for new Tableau users. Tableau has also made available an Excel Add-in, which can tackle some of these problems, but it can also be clunky and is not really easily repeatable. The Information Lab recommends Alteryx as the ideal way of preparing and enhancing your data for Tableau.

What is Alteryx?

Alteryx is an intuitive drag and drop data preparation tool designed with ease of use in mind. It helps with three areas of data analysis; Data Preparation & Quality, Spatial Analysis and Predictive Analysis. Tools are added to a canvas to build a data workflow which helps diagrammatically map the process which, when coupled with the in-software annotations and other automated documentation features, helps both business users and technical users understand each of the steps in the data transformation process. Given too that Alteryx can read and write to many different data formats and databases, from "Traditional" (e.g. csv, Excel, SQL Server, Oracle) to "Cloud" ( e.g. Sharepoint, Salesforce, JSON) to "Big Data" (e.g. Hadoop, MongoDB, Amazon Redshift) this gives non-technical users an unparalleled opportunity to shake off the shackles of IT and build their own processes in a way that can be managed and understood by everyone.

Try Alteryx today

Download a free trial of Alteryx today and talk to your Account Manager (or email to find out more. Alternatively, come see for yourself how Alteryx can empower you and your business users at one of our free, hands-on training courses held in London.