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May 20, 2019

Iron Man Has Nothing on You. The Story of a Super Analyst.

By: Shawn Parks

Here is your suit.

If there is one thing we all love, it’s a great hero story. Whether the cape of your childhood is long gone or you went to “Avengers: Endgame” in full costume, it’s hard to shake the dream of saving the day.  As time goes on, you may have to trade in your mask (at least at the office) for a spreadsheet and dashboard. The most desirable secret power is less about flying and more about getting the marketing director to actually open up your dashboards. Stop me when this is starting to sound familiar.

So how does an analyst, become a super analyst?

There is an increasing number of you hiding in plain sight, but here is the quick story of one.  The Clark Kent of this story spends his days in the finance department of a Fortune 500 insurance company. His typical to-do list used to be a recurring cycle that went something like this:  

  1. Email the weekly commentary on the executive dashboard
  2. Publish the monthly finance report
  3. Dig into what was driving the revenue decline in the Northeast (or the latest priority task)

In addition to the manual repetition of the list, the bigger problem was No. 3 on this list always had too many “first priorities.” Additionally, each problem never got the full attention it deserved. The tickets for analysis kept coming in—everything from requests for custom reports to clarifying questions on spreadsheets. Those were the coworkers who followed the process. Most just sent him an email directly. The worst offender of all was Jane in accounting who kept just showing up next to his desk. The details were different but all cried the same theme: “Save me!”

Our hero has a back story, what’s the turning point?

The team recently starting using Tableau as their preferred visual analytics solution. Our soon-to-be hero was one of the 30 analysts using Tableau to crunch data and create reports for senior management. The bulk of the other users seeing value in a new approach are senior management and mid-level managers using Tableau to monitor business KPIs.

In addition to establishing the team on their business intelligence platform, they also learned about a secret weapon that needed to be recovered from the clutches of a horrendous monster … OK, now that’s taking it too far. But they did learn about a natural language extension that instantly turned the data in the dashboards into plain-English stories.   

Our hero has now proven a few use cases with the extension and has become a power user.  In a meeting, he gave a testimonial to the rest of the room about how much these tools help him do his job better. The end result: he is a super analyst. One who is more efficient and produces better reports.

(Sidenote: If you feel like you’ve already read this story, this one is different. Another insurance company’s finance department is using the same solution. I told you there are more of you than you think. AND if you work in one of the largest insurance companies in the U.S. and this is not about you, your competition has beat you to it. But I digress.)

Cue epic score.

So there you have it. There may or may not have been a booming musical score playing as the super analyst announced his findings. However, just like Steve Rogers, his life has undergone a transformation which has significantly improved his daily workflow.

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