Tableau caught them looking

Wipe away that tear you have shed for BI marketing. Take heart in this: The golden oldies — those tired verses like “faster, better decisions” — have never come closer to receding into the support roles where they belong. A new strategy has been proving itself able to hook even onlookers who swore they really didn’t give a damn.

In the most recent example, a simple Tableau Public-hosted chart on Wired caught me looking. And thinking. It hooked me with a bar chart that compared rates that iPad users pay for downloading data.

Did I say that I really don’t care what iPad users pay per gigabyte?

I looked. There’s the U.S., I thought when I saw it, losing again. I’m used to that by now. But who’s losing worse? Belgium! Why Belgium? I thought of reasons, but none seemed to explain why a gigabyte there was more expensive than a gigabyte in Italy, another country I know a little bit about. Better price supports for waffles than for cannoli? My local Belgian thinks she knows the reason: “Taxes!,” she says. But I told her that that explains nothing at all, and that conversation continues even today.

Sure, it’s all a lot of fun. It’s powerful, too. The simple chart that can hook you on the fly — by making you notice, making you scratch your head, making you try out one angle after another in the quiet of your moment’s pause — can hook customers with modest budgets and legions of casual users to excite.

The data industry thrives on conversation. Please submit a comment.

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