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Enterprise Tableau data visualization tool offered to campus


ITS Infrastructure & Operations, in conjunction with campus partners, has implemented a centralized Tableau reporting platform to help the University provide the Tableau data visualization tools to campus.

Many groups at UNC-Chapel Hill already use Tableau, using specific licensing for their department, school or unit. Earlier this year, the University executed an enterprise agreement with Tableau in order to provide the centralized platform. ITS is contributing to efforts on Tableau, as well as Carolina’s broader effort, to strengthen the University’s capabilities for analyzing and accessing data.

Rachel Serrano
Rachel Serrano

Supplements other tools

Tableau will supplement the existing suite of reporting tools available to the campus, such as SAS Visual Analytics. Departments, schools and units can choose the best tools for satisfying its needs. The Enterprise Reporting & Departmental Systems team, led by Rachel Serrano, can advise users on which tools might be the most appropriate for its use case, and how to connect those tools to the available enterprise data.

As a data visualization tool, Tableau is praised for its ease of use and its functionality for creating dashboards and visual reports. Tableau accommodates three interactive roles: creators, explorers and viewers. Creators, most typically, would create connections to data sources and create and edit visualizations. Explorers can access those data sources to also create and edit visualizations. Viewers can view and interact with those visualizations.

Enterprise Tableau benefits campus

Moving to Tableau at an enterprise level has a few key advantages: it decreases the aggregated spending, which puts money back into department budgets; it simplifies campus-wide management; and it enables interdepartmental collaboration. The enterprise license also provides unlimited explorer and viewer licenses, which means that more University users can begin using Tableau without expending departmental funds.

Enables collaboration among groups

As ITS has a strategic direction to move to a cloud-based service delivery model, the enterprise Tableau platform was implemented in Amazon Web Services. The implementation is also using a complex of servers as opposed to the single server model that was used in the majority of the existing Tableau environments. Tableau will also enable collaboration between departments, in the form of data sharing. University data could be validated by the departments that own it and then they could certify that data for other groups to use.

The enterprise Tableau environment was made available to campus in July 2019 and numerous campus units have begun their migration to the enterprise platform. The service owner for the platform is Enterprise Reporting & Departmental Systems and the platform and software are supported by Infrastructure & Operations.


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