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Data analysis and visualization with Tableau

Tableau01While the statement "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" serves as a great warning whenever we contemplate something new, it should not mean that we ignore the options. A good case in point is the way we currently analyze and visualize discovery and development data.

The tried and true tools include SAS, S-PLUS, Spotfire and Integrated Review. But now there is another tool that's worth a look, Tableau.

Tableau was just named "Application of the Year" by CMP Media, publisher of Computer Reseller News.

According to the Tableau web site, at the heart of the software is "a proprietary technology that makes interactive data visualization an integral part of understanding data. Typically, most people analyze data in rows and columns, hoping to find an insight and then produce a graph or chart to communicate the finding. What [we] did was make it possible to employ data visualization as an integral part of the analytical process itself – not just as the end result. [Chris Stolte's] scholarly work describes his invention: a database visualization language called VizQL™ (Visual Query Language).

Tableau02 This fundamentally new architecture does for data interactions in visual form what SQL did for data interactions in text form. VizQL statements describe an infinite class of sophisticated multi-dimensional visualizations. With VizQL, people have a single analysis interface and database visualization tool to produce a broad range of graphical summaries. Users can transform any database or spreadsheet into information visualizations tailored to the data, including dashboards, worksheets and workbooks.

Drag-and-Drop operations in Tableau Desktop create a query in VizQL. VizQL interprets the query, packages a SQL or MDX query to the database and then expresses the response graphically. Because of VizQL, fast analytics and visualization are reality. People with little or no training can see and understand data faster than ever and in ways like never before. And that’s the biggest difference of all."

It's important to note that Tableau is a horizontal application. In other words, it's meant to be used in all industries. The converse, of course, is that it's not tailored to Biopharma. Be that as it may, the software is in use at the following companies:

  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Roche Diagnostics
  • Alza
  • Merck
  • Novo Nordisk
  • Pfizer
  • Sanofi-Aventis

Some of the application areas are:

  • Project management
  • Sales performance
  • Clinical/patient/trial data analysis
  • Product pipeline analysis
  • Asset utilization
  • Drug discovery
  • Project cost analysis

Hunter Harwood, Senior Manager - Business Analytics at Pfizer is quoted on the Tableau web site saying: "We absolutely love the tool. It has already revolutionized the way we analyse data and present the findings."

Now it's up to you to check it out and see whether and how Tableau can complement or displace the tools you currently use.

Comments

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