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Jaguar Land Rover turns to Tableau to give staff analytics dashboards that "just work"

Scott Carey | March 23, 2017
The company is looking to promote more self-service analytics through the Tableau analytics dashboards.

Now, whenever the central analytics team creates a piece of analytics or sees another team producing something, they link them up with other business areas that may be able to make use of it.


Data Lake

Elsewhere, JLR is still doing some business intelligence reporting directly within its on-premise SAP solutions, but is now running its daily backups from these systems into Google's Big Query cloud platform to facilitate the building of a company-wide data lake.

Another benefit of Tableau for Benford is how well it integrates with Big Query.

"It communicates with the lake extremely well," Benford explained. "What I mean by that is Tableau constructs its queries in a way that Google Big Query does most of the processing. This means we can spread our server very far indeed and that we get high performance on quite large data sets."

This has helped cut down on shadow IT where teams want to collaborate on projects, as they can now upload their own data into the lake, but only with the right training and governance in place.



JLR is quickly growing its analytics capability and is planning to hire around 40 specialists this year, including data engineers, analytics architects and data scientists.

Currently Benford admits that 65 percent of the business don't have to worry about analytics, but of the remainder he counts between 1,800 to 2,500 of the total staff at the company as "citizen analysts" - so staff across various departments that do analytics as part of their day job and will be creating Tableau dashboards themselves.

According to Benford, the key for these employees is to "make analytics easy, so they focus on the what to analyse not how". JLR enables that as an organisation with analytics training, and Benford said when he initially set up Tableau training with 60 vacancies, the course was filled by the end of the first day.

Then there are the 600 to 1,200 "analytics professionals and developers" whose primary role is data analytics. Finally there is the "analytics leaders" team of 115-150 people, whose job is to enable the analytics professionals and to make sure that consumption of analytics is prevalent across the business.

"If we can create an analytics environment that is so simple that people end up doing analytics while focusing on other core passions, then they will start doing analytics," he said. "If we tell them they have to start learning SQL query, they will tell us where to go."

Benford shared an example which really shows how an easy-to-use analytics tool can allow anyone in the business to create real value.

An intern at the company recently took 39 business hypotheses from a brainstorming session and within two days had worked in Tableau to narrow them down to "three significant business findings" and presented them back to the business.

"Someone at a senior level has agreed that we can make savings of tens of millions thanks to this work," Benford said. "The analytics hasn't saved the money, but it has created the opportunity."


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