EXASOL at the Data School

by Andy Kriebel

This is a guest post by Eva Murray, Tableau Evangelist at EXASOL.

Finding talent in the BI market is not an easy task, as many organizations in the industry can confirm.


This is especially true if you’re looking for consultants who combine their technical skills with excellent customer service, a confident and charismatic personality, a willingness to travel and the ability to work independently and flexibly for various clients on challenging projects.

The Information Lab have recognized the need to develop their own talent in-house and started The Data School in June 2015 as a way to equip promising young professionals with the right skills and knowledge to succeed in the data industry.

The Data School combines Tableau and EXASOL for superfast data visualizations

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting The Data School in London, where the fourth intake of consultants had just started their training with head coach and Tableau Zen Master Andy Kriebel. Project week was on the schedule, which meant developing analyses of client data and dashboards to be presented to the client only four days later.

The Data School uses Tableau for data visualization, Alteryx for advanced analytics and general ETL processes and EXASOL’s in-memory analytic database to ensure exceptional dashboard performance no matter the size of the data set.

Using the right tools for enablement

Project week was packed with training sessions, guest speakers and hard work to develop the final outputs.

During my presentation in which I introduced our company and product, I was excited to hear from some of the team who were interested in learning more about databases and how our software works to accelerate Tableau visualizations. But I was equally pleased to hear Gwilym Lockwood comment, “I don’t care how it works, I just want to know THAT it works“.

At first you may think this sounds dismissive; in my head I wanted to give the commenter a big high-five.

There is always room to learn more about the tools we work with on a daily basis. At the same time, maybe we don’t need to investigate the how and why. We just want software to enable us to do our best work. Just like a painter doesn’t need to take apart and investigate every brush, canvas and easel, or a surgeon learn about the components and construction of his instruments, we don’t expect our users to worry about the ins and outs of their EXASOL database.

Of course, you’re welcome to learn and gain a deep understanding of our product and we will help you along the way, but if you just want software that works and works every time without requiring you to tinker with it, then we’re able to provide you with exactly that.

Simplification in a time of growing complexity

As our data and technology industry – and in fact our world in general – becomes increasingly complex, we need to ensure that we simplify things wherever we can. We don’t have to know and do everything ourselves, rather we can rely on experts to come in at the right time to help us when we need them. It is just not the best use of our time to move too far from our core competencies just for the sake of having done something ourselves. And that applies to organizations as well as individuals.

At The Data School, the consultants will become Tableau and Alteryx experts with a comprehensive understanding of data and data storytelling. Do they need to become database experts? Very unlikely. They will learn enough along the way to be effective in their job.

Tools that enable and elevate human thought

During project week, one thing that stood out was perfectly summarized by Andy in his comment that “it’s amazing, no one has complained about performance. That issue doesn’t even exist because we’re using EXASOL”.

Instead of fixing a performance problem once it occurs, let’s prevent it from ever surfacing in the first place. This also aligns nicely with Tableau’s continuous focus on providing a user experience that ensures data analysis and visualization is enabled by a tool that moves in the background and lets users just ‘get on with their job’, analyze, find new insights, go deeper in their discovery and do it all in a very visual and intuitive way.

EXASOL shares this commitment to enabling users to do great work without having to think about the software.

The tool gets out of the way and elevates human thought processes to be completely undisturbed.

New insights for the client

And in the end? Well, in the end, the Data School team provided their client with an excellent presentation of their findings. Witnessing their process unfold throughout the week, seeing their early drafts and listening to their conversations, I was very impressed with the final outcome. The data set had plenty of potential for the team to go too deep and narrow, but they were able to keep the bigger picture in mind.

They developed a number of interesting metrics, spent time polishing the final dashboards and showed clever use of filters and interactivity to enhance the user experience for their client. They also clearly had fun working on this project. The different backgrounds, levels of experience and interests of the nine team members brought diversity and fresh perspectives, which contributed to the final outputs.

I personally want to thank Andy and The Data School for welcoming me to their project week and for giving me an opportunity to introduce our company. We at EXASOL hope you enjoyed working with our tool and wish all of the Data School members all the best for the months of training they have ahead of them and many interesting challenges in the placements that follow.

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