Tableau Finds Faster Iteration Leads to Faster Innovation on Pantheon

Pantheon's Workflow Allows Marketing to Focus on User Experience

Summary

Tableau Software is an analytics and business intelligence company that helps over 32,000 customers see and understand their data. Manager of marketing systems engineering Eric Peterson implemented Pantheon so their highly technical marketing team could focus on what they do best.

Tableau made its name in the analytics space well before its IPO in 2013, having gone from a startup to a publicly-traded powerhouse that helps people truly understand their data. The company moved their website to Pantheon when they discovered a need for faster workflows and more time to devote to marketing initiatives.

The company’s marketing team, comprised of engineers and marketing experts who work hand in hand on their initiatives, has seen a major impact on the way they manage their multiple Drupal websites after moving to Pantheon’s website operations platform. Juggling several sites and initiatives is easier, lead generation skyrocketed, and fast-moving marketing efforts no longer rely on the day-to-day availability of engineers.

At a fast-growing company like ours, marketing needs to iterate rapidly to deliver leads at scale. Pantheon is the only way we can do that.

—Eric Peterson, Marketing Systems Engineering

Rebalancing Priorities

Before handing off infrastructure to Pantheon, Tableau managed all the elements of website hosting in-house. At a glance, the site looked fine. But behind the scenes, keeping up with new product demands and fairly prioritizing marketing requests was stretching the team thin.

At the time, we were hosting internally and using an external vendor for support for marketing. The setup wasn’t working out for us at all.

—Eric Peterson, Marketing Systems Engineering

The company had just launched Tableau Public, a free service that enables anyone to create and share visualizations online. A groundbreaking service, but also something that required a lot of infrastructure and operational resources.

Meanwhile, marketing had important requests for their own initiatives—they needed to create the landing pages, campaigns, and acquisition funnels that would drive new business for Tableau as they tapped into potential new audiences.

Peterson knew his team needed better, more efficient workflows to keep up with these dueling resource demands. They worked out a vision: clean, automated workflows that made website deployments easier. Repeatable processes for common requests. One-click staging environments and updates.

“Marketing felt deprioritized,” says Peterson. He went to his team and asked, “Can you build this for us? Do you have the time? If not, then let's go to Pantheon.”

The biggest selling point for Peterson and the team was continuous integration and deployment. Every site on Pantheon comes with three identical environments out of the box—Dev, Test, and Live. This provides Tableau’s team with an independent environment for development that can integrate with the live site in Test once stable, drastically lowering the risk of new deployments hurting marketing efforts.  

Building an Agile Marketing Machine

Modern marketing teams are becoming more and more technical, and Tableau is no exception. They know they can achieve more as an agile, self-sufficient team with full control over how well the company website supports their goals for growth and retention.

Pantheon makes the agile marketing dream a reality while ticking off all of the boxes for Peterson and the team.

The website is our front door. Focusing development resources on the getting people in the door yields dramatic value, but only if the dev team can iterate rapidly and safely. Pantheon makes this possible.

—Eric Peterson, Marketing Systems Engineering

Marketing gets free reign over creating content in Drupal. When they want something from  engineering—like integrating a new tool or changing the way content is stored and organized—the time to deliver is less than half of what it used to be.

They get a boost on growth KPIs from website performance, too. Knowing an outage or lagging load times can cost an enterprise millions in potential revenue, the marketing team can trust Pantheon to keep the site running and spend their time attracting customers.

Engineering gets greater velocity. “Before Pantheon, we could not support a sprint cycle that was shorter than a month, because it was so difficult to verify that everything was working. Or we would do shorter sprint cycles and would break something, potentially really, really badly.” Peterson has now shortened those cycles to a week. “We can iterate quickly, not only on the pipeline stuff but on user interactions and more.”

Neither team has to learn a new CMS. Drupal was working for Tableau—they just needed a better system for the infrastructure beneath it. When they made the switch, Peterson saw things working smoothly right away.

Making the Switch: Integrating Tableau and Pantheon

Pantheon helps Tableau’s highly technical team work on their sites quickly and intelligently, no longer relying on another department to help push new features or make simple content updates.

Tableau moved from their proprietary infrastructure to Pantheon without any noticeable interruption to the customer experience. Thanks to Pantheon’s identical Dev, Test, and Live environments, they were able to see exactly how their sites would operate on the new platform before going live—a development workflow that saves them from deployment mishaps again and again.

For Peterson and the rest of the Tableau team, this new Pantheon workflow would make a huge difference. He wanted—and got—a platform that allowed for continuous integration, where they could safely test changes in multiple branches without breaking anything in production.

Now our process is clever from beginning to end. We’re not worried about any go-live surprises. Instead we can immediately turn our focus toward what we want to do next.

—Eric Peterson, Marketing Systems Engineering

Taking It the Extra Mile

Tableau’s mission is to make data more accessible to everyone, so it’s no surprise that Peterson and his team put their own touch on their new marketing stack. They built their own proxy tool to integrate with the Pantheon platform, letting their content marketers connect to CMS data on Pantheon to get all sorts of information on what is working best and how to prioritize for the next quarter. Pantheon’s cloud integration tools make self-service, data-driven content marketing possible for Tableau’s team.

Pantheon makes agile web development a reality, but it also enables us to make non-developers in marketing more agile too.

—Eric Peterson, Marketing Systems Engineering

Both the dev and marketing teams at Tableau revved up productivity and results when they started using Pantheon. But the continued improvements and great support are why they stay.

“Pantheon listens to what I'm doing and is able to react and build off of that,” Peterson said. “Although we're customers, we're treated like partners, and that’s amazing.”

Benefits

  • Marketing team reduced sprint cycles from one month to one week

  • A consistent development workflow allows the team to iterate rapidly

  • Ability to deliver leads quickly provides greater demand gen potential

  • A modern marketing stack allows the team to focus on what they do best