1. Why Use Tableau Connectors?

 
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Connecting to Different Data Sources

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Overview

Tableau connectors can make your life as an analyst much easier if you know how to use them properly. In this lesson, we catalog the benefits of using these connectors.

Lesson Notes

Benefits of using Tableau connectors

- Huge time savings by avoiding regular IT requests for data exports
- Data updates are very quick, either by pressing refresh or scheduling automated updates
- Gaining access to raw data can substantially improve the quality of your work

Transcript

Up to now, we've used data storage in CSV, or Excel files to build our dashboards in Tableau. However, one of the big advantages of Tableau is that it can connect to many different data sources, be they on your company premises, in the Cloud or on your local PC. To view all the data connectors, provided by Tableau, we go to the Connect pane and here Tableau allows us to connect to an individual file or to data sources represented by a server. Some of the more common data sources are included in this list but if you want to see a full server list from Tableau, simply hit More. And as you can see from this list, Tableau has integrations with Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and even SAP products, which many large companies, perhaps including yours, rely upon. Most Tableau training providers assume that you will easily be able to connect to these data sources. However, it turns out that analysts, particularly non-technical analysts, can experience difficulties when connecting to these data sources. Some of the Cloud data sources in particular, for example Google Analytics, can be quite difficult to navigate without some training. As a consequence, we've created this course so that you can effectively connect to some of the most common data sources available in Tableau, including Google Sheets, SQLServer, Google Analytics and much more. Before we begin our work however, we should probably discuss why connecting to these data sources can be much more powerful than simply using CSV and Excel files.

The first benefit of connecting to a server, time saving. Typically, if you want to gain access to some data that exists within a large data source in a format such as CSV or Excel, you will need to make a request to the IT department and then specify which data you want to export. By connecting directly to the data source, this delay is removed. Second, connecting to a server automates data updates, which removes a lot of repetitive work. To automate data updates, you can set a schedule within Tableau online or Tableau server. If you don't want to automate the update and you're in Tableau desktop, then you can simply hit the Refresh button and all your dashboards will update. Either way, it's a much better way of working than appending data to the bottom of an Excel or a CSV file every time we want to ingest some new data. Lastly, getting access to the raw data source should improve the quality of your exploratory analysis. When we make a request to the IT department for a CSV or an Excel file export from the data source, we normally need to specify the exact columns that we want. But unfortunately, without looking at the data source, we may not know all of the valuable columns that we could use in our analysis. As an analyst, I like to gain access to the raw data so I can decide for myself what's relevant and what's not and this helps enormously with the quality of my analysis that I can provide to a manager or a client. In the next lesson, we're going to learn the different ways that Tableau can connect to a server and some do's and don'ts when making that first connection.