• Simon Beaumont

Prepping (get it..) your organisation for Tableau Conference(ish)


When you heard the news that Tableau Conference was going virtual for 2020 what was your first reaction? Sadness at not being able to see your #datafam? Disappointment at missing out on the in-person buzz of conference? Relief for your liver? Well what if I told you one of the first things you could have felt is excitement for your colleagues?

Why? With #Data20 being free of charge to attend and going virtual it means for the first time in its history, there is no reason why everyone, and I mean everyone, connected with data in your organisation cannot get to experience the thrill, energy and inspiration of a Tableau Conference.

In JLL, our Corporate Solutions BI Centre of Excellence is embracing TC like never before. We have leveraged our existing commitment to continuous learning and made a pledge to allow all of our analysts protected time to enjoy conference live. This pledge for me is vital, yes conference this year is virtual and yes it is free, but, people will be participating on their PC, making the distractions of work very difficult to avoid. We have to give analysts permission to switch off, to re-prioritise workloads and to avoid the guilt of ‘but I really should be working on that urgent request’.

Such a commitment is a great start to democratising our #data20 experience, but in reality, will it automatically result in everyone actually participating in and embracing conference this year? No. Many of our Tableau analysts will never have experienced conference before, they will have no idea of what a keynote is, of the geeky humour and energy of devs and stage, let alone the crazy excitement of IronViz.

With this in mind we have embarked on some practical steps to help engage our Tableau analysts, informing them on how they can benefit from jumping feet first into the TC experience and how it can fuel their data journey for the months ahead. Here is how:

Leverage your internal discussion forum

At JLL we have a vibrant internal discussion forum, based on the Microsoft Teams platform. All of our analysts are part of this forum and are encouraged to regularly post questions, ideas and reflections to Teams so they can engage with their peers and we can grow together.


When registration for #data20 was announced we immediately created a new Teams Channel, dedicated to ‘Tableau Conference(ish)’ and we set about filling it with posts, branded in the TC style, to get people engaged in the conference experience.

These posts range from the simplistic ‘how to’ through to the reflective ‘what were your favourite past Tableau Conference sessions’.


The concept of the posts is to inform people and raise awareness of Tableau Conference and to start that positive vibe and buzz amongst our internal community. Yes, the same one we all get every year when we book our travel, when we review the content scheduler, when Mark Bradbourne starts his days to TC countdown on Twitter and of course when Jeremy Poole publishes his ‘Whose in Town’ Tableau Public viz.


Our posts are deliberately informal and the hope is by publishing a few starter posts it will encourage others to join in the discussion and start posting their own questions or reflections.


Here are the first topics we posted:

  • A welcome invitation from our Global Director, Paul Chapman, personally inviting everyone to attend #data20 (this was further complimented by an email sent out to every analyst).

  • I want in, when is it and how do I register?

  • What about the content?

  • What about the partying? (we are planning to host our own internal data night outs over the 3 days of #Data20 – ok so these may be as simple as a group WebEx with a beer but the main thing is to enable our people to connect with each other).

  • SWAG, I just want SWAG (we are coordinating a small amount of SWAG to be available to distribute amongst our teams so they have a memento to remember #Data20 by).

  • Dataviz inspiration (showcasing previous Tableau Public TC viz galleries and IronViz creations)

  • What are your favourite past TC sessions? (don’t forget the vast majority of past TC content is available to watch via the Tableau You Tube site so what better way to excite people about #Data20 than to watch some of the best content from past conferences, and yes I was amazed how many people remembered the t shirt cannon moment from our JLL #TC18 session!).

An example of our dedicated Teams Tableau Conference(ish) discussion page

It may be virtual but still do a ‘Know Before You Go’ session

In past years, supported by our amazing Tableau Customer Success Manager, Lisa Donaldson, we have hosted a ‘Know Before You Go’ session for TC registrants to help them prepare for the conference experience. Going virtually doesn’t stop the need for these sessions so we have one scheduled in, but this year, with all of our analysts invited, for late September.

Embrace social media, but internally

How many of us have a cringe-worthy photo from a past Tableau Conference? The kind of photo that your friends look at and say ‘oh so that is what you actually got up to in that work conference you went to!’ These are the physical evidence of the amazing memories that put a smile on all of our faces once we face the long 12 month wait until we can do it all over again. This year, we want to do achieve the same memories but in a virtual environment. We are asking all of our analysts that attend #Data20 to take a photo in the virtual selfie booth and to post it to our Tableau Conference(ish) Teams Channel. From these we will create numerous montages to remind our people of the amazing #datafam that they are part of at JLL.

Our JLL photos for Tableau Live Europe earlier this year.

I hope this peek inside our JLL BI Centre of Excellence has inspired you to help prepare your teams for #Data20, I would love to hear of some of the innovative ways you are planning to create that conference buzz this year within your organisations.

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Vizionary was first created in 2018