Barclays is a global financial services provider with an extensive presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. In this interview, Senior Insight Analyst Peter Gilks discusses how Barclays is leveraging Tableau along with 20 million rows of customer data and a Teradata installation to drive analysis and insight.
Tableau: What has been the main benefit of working with Tableau at Barclays?
Peter Gilks, Senior Insight Analyst: Tableau Server lets us engage our business users and get our data out there at a large scale. It’s getting people really excited about what data can do for them. When we can show them a really, really engaging visual, a very strong dashboard— that’s getting them excited to use that data to make better decisions.
Tableau: Peter, what do you do as a Senior Insight Analyst?
Peter: I look into our customers’ data to try and find out who they are, what kind of products they use, and their demographics. Then I find ways that we can improve our strategy, product development and marketing to really give our colleagues a better understanding of who our customers are.
Tableau: So Tableau helps you better know your customers?
Peter: When I started using Tableau about three years ago, I just knew that we had lots of data and our other tools weren’t enabling us to get the most out of that data. I knew if we got Tableau, we’d be able to look at things more quickly, like customer satisfaction, demographics, and behavioral data.
Tableau: What kind of insight have you found using Tableau? Has it made an impact?
Peter: One of our recent dashboards brings in data about the reasons people complain and who those people are—the insight gained through those visuals helps us improve our customer service. Being able to see on a daily basis allows us to get to a root cause analysis of what those complaints are about.
Tableau: How do executives and frontline users use Tableau?
Peter: With Tableau Server, we send data and insight out via dashboards—so our senior executives and frontline see the same data. When they spot major trends, they can start to plan for them. It’s really important for our teams to be able to discover something and then show other people what they’ve found. It’s got them excited about data in a way they haven’t been before.
The feedback from users has been really, really strong. They really, really enjoy using the dashboards and find them very engaging. They enjoy being able to interact with the data and they appreciate the strength of Tableau’s visuals.
Tableau: What size data are we talking about?
Peter: Typically our data lists are at around 20 million rows of data for 20 million customers in the UK. Analysis used to require lots of SQL programming and moving data into Excel then into charts. It involved a lot of pre-thought about measures to program. You’d come up with your charts later, and then there was a lengthy iterative process. Now, with Tableau it’s very, very quick—we get the answers much more quickly than the old way.
I can answer things within a business meeting at the speed we’re going at now. Before Tableau, we were talking a day or two turnaround per question. Now I can sit with my laptop in a meeting and answer questions on 20 million rows of data basically on the fly.
Tableau: How quickly do you get to insight with Tableau?
Peter: I can answer things within a business meeting at the speed we’re going at now. Before Tableau, we were talking a day or two turnaround per question. Now I can sit with my laptop in a meeting and answer questions on 20 million rows of data basically on the fly, flip my laptop around and show everyone the answers. And because things are quick, you can’t go too far wrong. So if you try something and it doesn’t work, that’s only five seconds wasted; you just start again.
Tableau: Sounds like Tableau is changing the way people work at Barclays!
Peter: The major impact Tableau is having is on the way people are thinking. Tableau is really starting to increase innovation. People felt restrained by some of the tools we had before, and Tableau is allowing them to think about things in a new way.
Tableau: Tell us, has Tableau changed your own life?
Peter: It does make our day-to-day work lives a lot easier and a lot more fun. Things that were taking me days are now taking minutes. So on one hand it’s made my life a whole lot easier. On the other hand, it’s increased my workload because people are asking me for more stuff, but in a positive way.
Using Tableau has really created enthusiasm within me and my team about what we can do and what we can achieve. I think it’s really widened our horizons about the people we can reach.
Tableau: And you find that people ENJOY using Tableau?
Peter: Tableau is fun to use and it’s powerful and it provides value. It gives people something that they can get excited about using. So, rather than using tools that are challenging and just laborious to use, Tableau has changed the excitement people have toward finding answers. People want to use it.
Tableau: What’s next for Tableau and Barclays?
Peter: There’s a lot of latent demand that’s not being met; we really want to be able to surface that through Tableau. We’ve just bought Tableau Server, and are going to start rolling it out. We’re getting requests already for things that people want on it. We’d like to create user groups, bring in more of the business users, and build an analytics community through Tableau. We’ll take it step by step.