David Bobrow, Nissan, senior Domain Applicant Architect at Nissan North America, shared his experience with transitioning Nissan to Tableau and he presented the stages he and his team had to go through in order to get from 0 to more than 1,500 users in just a year.

When Nissan first started with Tableau, they only had 30 people to take advantage to their 100 licences in the whole organization.

“Day one, walking in, people had to deal with Tableau, not knowing anything about it. We had about 20 users on tableau servers. We had only 2 Tableau sites. We only had manual and local data sources.”

First thing Nissan did was to adopt Tableau DRIVE methodology, adapted to the company’s needs.

“When we started we had an Executive Sponsor, Tableau Champion, Administrator, Consumer, Consultant and a Tableau Project Manager. These are the DRIVE roles. The Tableau DRIVE phases are Discovery and Foundation Building”.
It was a slow start for Nissan.

“When we bought the Tableau environment, my boss asked me if people will actually use this. I said…“If you build it…they will come. He told us that in the first 90 days not much happened. In the next 90 days, Nissan had an objective: to find a quick way to create a buzz about Tableau throughout the building. We scheduled a LOT of demonstrations. But it was worth it, you create synergies with different areas of your company. We informed key business areas about Tableau. Was that enough? No! Not even close”.

After 6 months since they decided to adopt the Tableau methodology, and they realized they to move faster, to make a faster adoption.

“We introduced the first Data Management & Analytics EXPO.  We’ve inaugurated the event for education, a platform launch and networking between business and IT teams. We had 221 registrants from high consumption groups. We sent out an invitation to key business stakeholders, the one that are making the decisions from your company.”

One of the key successes of the expo was that Nissan managed to launch a new data management and analytics site to serve as an online resource for education, training and collaborating around data, such as a virtual connector between business areas and their partners.

“Every time we would send an email, we would say “go to our team’s site”, so we started pushing this site really hard. We’ve included plenty of resource materials. We put links on our sites user groups, partners of Tableau, learning tools, tutorials etc. The most important thing is showing how to get help. If you don’t have a magic area to show people how to find things and to get help, a site it’s not good.”

At the end of the first 180 days, Nissan still had around 30 desktop users, but their Tableau Server users-base went to approximately 250.

“We had 5 Tableau sites, and we added also some certified data sources on top of local and manual ones. At the Tableau DRIVE Roles we added DBA.”

At days 181-270, Nissan set up a new objective: to build upon the success of the EXPO.

They have developed new Tableau Server Sites, provided Site Admin Training and created a simple Tableau Desktop Licence request form. But most importantly, Nissan introduced a support model.

“We introduced a self-service model. Give your users the keys, fill the tank, provide a GPS, but let them drive from Point A to Point B. Initially, it was hard to adapt, people are used to picking up the phone and ask why something isn’t working. But you need to introduce a support structure. We don’t have a team of 200 developers, but we have to support a lot. We now have 90,000 unique business ID’s”.

Once we’ve reached the point where all the resources have been exhausted, the chain of finding solutions is changed drastically. People actually came to us with solutions gathered from the self-service model, instead of calling us.

Part of the advice that David Bobrow gave to analysts eager to implement Tableau was to monitor their server activity no matter what. “You need to monitor your server activities, you know to know your business areas. For example, we have finance areas, customers and satisfaction, different factories, different users, different data sources, different worlds. We cannot use a single data source and a single website for all those”.

For Nissan, the self-service approach is working! They now have less external resource dependencies, a reduction in help desk tickets, more elaborate visualizations, increased IT/ business collaboration meetings. The friction is now gone, not completely, but a significant part.

There is also an increased use of data marts, certified data sources and established data sourcing activities.

“All good, but we had to keep building the excitement of our new product. We did that with monthly Tableau Focus sessions, On-site/ WebEx Tableau Doctor sessions.We established a Nissan Tableau User Group within our organization. We bring in guest speakers, from Tableau or other company. If somebody from other companies wants to come, he can come and share.”

He put an emphasis on the need to keep the communication flowing. “People need to know and as we’re constantly adding users, we need to send announcements to everyone. We also had a direct interaction with Tableau support. Tableau support is fantastic. They LOVE their customers and are willing to go out of the way to make sure you’re happy.”

Days 271-365: Shifting to High Gear. Nissan’s objective for this timeframe was to bridge their existing SAP Business Objects users / Microsoft Office users into Tableau.

“For this, we introduced UniverseBridge to “bridge” BOBJ Web Intelligence users with Tableau.”

At the final checkpoint, at day 365, the results were amazing.

“We had now 200 desktop users, and our Tableau Servers users went up to 1,500. We had 22 Tableau Sites and our data sources are some manual, but mostly certified. We tripled our Tableau Servers, we added a passive, an active and a background server.”

About the author

Sebastian Stan

Sebastian is a journalist and digital strategist with years of experience in the news industry, social media, content creation and management, and digital analytics.

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