Tableau User Group Ireland – An Interview with Tableau Ambassador Steve Martin
Tableau User Group Ireland – An Interview with Tableau Ambassador Steve Martin

Ahead of next week’s Tableau User Group Ireland, The Information Lab Ireland were delighted to sit down with Data Insights Developer and Tableau Ambassador, Steve Martin, to chat about his path to Data Analytics and his love of Tableau.

Steve Martin is one of the old guard. His journey with Tableau began in the summer of 2008 and he remembers it as if it were yesterday.

“It was Version Four,” he says from his home in Northamptonshire. “I was working in Barclaycard and was doing dashboarding using Excel and VBA. Everytime I wanted to make a change, no matter how trivial, there was a lot of coding and a lot of adjustments and I thought to myself there must be a better way.”

At that point, Steve was already building reports in SSRS but he began to look around at other tools on offer. He came across both QlikView and Tableau and put together a POC for both. In the end, Barclaycard went with QlikView but Steve stayed on his own journey with Tableau, one that has taken him to many different companies as a teacher and consultant.

Interactive dashboards

When he first came across Tableau all those years ago, it was the tool’s interactive capabilities that hooked him. They still do.

“I love multi-perspective immersive and interactive dashboards, where collections of charts are brought together to help users understand how that tiny crumb of data impacts the bigger picture. I use Tableau in the optimisation space. I say ‘this is my data, these are your requirements’ and I do stick with lines and bars in a lot of my charts because many of the people I work with are CEOs who want to have a look, make sure the curves are OK and move out again fairly quickly.”

Richard Limpkin of Immedis talks about partnering with The Information Lab to develop a solution to analyse complex data in real-time

Performance is key

“Performance is also at the front of my mind when building, because no matter how great your dashboard is, no user will be happy waiting more than ten seconds for it to render.”

Steve left university with a degree in Law before getting into Data Analytics. Though many might not see an alignment between the two disciplines, Steve sees similarities in the essence of both.

“Law is really analytical,” he says. “Looking at things from a certain perspective and applying principle to it. So it’s identical to analytics really.”

During his time at uni, he spent summers working in the analytics departments of legal firms to gain experience in both fields. This was something that worked as a stepping stone into Barclaycard and he hasn’t looked back since.

Steve runs the site where he beats the interactive drum and encourages followers to look at Tableau from a more architectural perspective and understand what is happening in the back end.

Simon Runc Tableau User Group Ireland

Set Parameter Actions

In keeping with his love of all things interactive, Steve’s presentation, A Love Letter to Set Parameter Actions on their Birthday, will focus on the wonders of Parameter Actions and how they can transform dashboards.

“It is one of the fewest used functions in Tableau and yet it is so huge,” says Steve. “Set Parameter Actions converts a parameter from a static value into an Inout variable so the result is that Set Parameter Actions ultimately have converted Tableau from being a dashboarding tool to being a very low level form of programming which makes them very powerful. We can use them for so many things.”

We very much look forward to welcoming both Steve and his fellow Tableau Ambassador, Simon Runc, to speak to us on the day.

The next TUG Ireland takes place online on May 26th. 


The Information Lab Ireland is at the forefront of creating a data-driven culture in Ireland.

As part of its vision, The Information Lab Ireland regularly hosts free events throughout the country to show how being data-driven can improve decision making and lead to a better understanding of the world around us. For more on these events please catch up with us on LinkedIn