Jock Mackinlay, the VP for Research & Design at Tableau, describes the four roles in visual analysis during his talk at Tableau Conference 2017. The roles are not mutually exclusive and they are represented by consumer, vizzer, analyst & author.
We’re all data consumers most of the time. It’s only when we are answering questions for others that we leave the roles of consumers. The way in which we consume data is through reports, emails, dashboards, etc. Moreover, we are transitioning more and more to mobile, therefore smartphones are becoming an important consumption technology. The issue that we encounter is that we have trouble finding the data that we need (how often have you asked yourself “Which report should I use?”). Not everyone is a consumer – there are people who will not engage with data.
Consumers become vizzers when they have questions, ranging from simple fact or extended analytical steps to multiple sources of data. Tableau is currently very interested in NLP (Natural Language Processing), which is useful both for consumers (for simple fact questions), but also for vizzers (helping to drive a conversation in order to answer questions). Nonetheless, not everyone wants to viz; some questions will be answered by analysts.
The analysts explain the findings to their organization through a narrative that is logically formulated. They are skilled in the art of making a compelling description. Analysts can range from Novices to Data Scientists (who in turn create statistical models & machine learning algorithms that can be used for authoring applications).
Authors represent a key role in the organization, and they are responsible with creating the appropriate workflow. They are more likely to make consumers & vizzers successful and they will generate the views that the users are consuming and anticipate the questions that they will have.