Reintroducing Assist by InterWorks: How It All Began

Lots of great ideas or discoveries come about by accident. A kite in the midst of a thunderstorm. Some errant mold finding its way to exposed Petri dishes. Follow-up questions to numerous quick-strike projects. While you may be familiar with those first two scenarios, the third may need a bit more unpacking.

The origins of our Assist practice date back to the 2016 Tableau Conference. At that time, a large portion of our consulting practice revolved around projects that were 40-80 hours. As soon as those projects were finished, consultants moved onto the next thing due to their busy schedules.

However, oftentimes, clients would have a handful of follow-up questions, but by that time, their point of contact would already have moved onto something different. We didn’t have an established framework to field these questions, and we thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we did?”

Thus, Assist was born.

What Is Assist by InterWorks?

Assist is an avenue through which anyone can receive InterWorks support. By visiting the Assist portal, clients can ask a question via chat, email or phone, and their inquiry is delegated to the appropriate person with the right expertise. Assist is really about taking care of users and supporting them with whatever kinds of issues they face.

Since InterWorks began as a tech company, our team of talented individuals can handle any issue you may be facing. We have experts deeply familiar with the network side of your business, the server side, the Tableau environment … You name it, we know it, and if we don’t, we’re ready and willing to dive in and learn the best answer to your question.

The Unique Value of Assist

Assist is uniquely positioned to fill gaps in the industry because our team can offer comprehensive technology support, covering everything from analytics to IT, backend to frontend. There is always someone available to respond to the questions that come through—a real living, breathing person, not an automated ticketing system or robotic phone menu.

If you have a question during business hours any day of the week, there is someone available to respond and help you out same day. These experienced consultants are seasoned in their field and continue to grow their skills and expand the scope of their knowledge because of the ask-me-anything nature of the questions they tackle through Assist.

“It’s different every day. There is constant growth for me personally and professionally. I get to learn about so many new tools while working to help others.” – Dustin Wyers, Assist Practice Lead

Above: Dustin on an Assist call

What’s Next for Assist?

The Assist practice has experienced tremendous growth since its inception. Since it really took off in 2017, over 350 people have been supported through over 3300 requests. Operating on a subscription model, Assist is now available to its subscribers on an essentially unlimited basis; there are no additional or hidden fees based on the number of times a person reaches out for assistance.

As InterWorks continues to strategically grow and expand its reach, we’re introduced to more technologies and partners. The broader the breadth of our experience in tech, the more skills and expertise our team develops. This is a direct investment in our Assist practice as more and more of our consultants will have a wider and more expansive knowledge base to tap into when supporting customers, resulting in quicker support so customers can get back to work and attain their greatest success.

Get Your Questions Answered so You Can Get Back to Work

Equipping our clients with the tools they need to succeed is paramount to us. Assist allows us to not only provide those solutions to them, but it also creates a way for us to connect them with the right people who can support and guide them as they navigate current and forthcoming challenges.

Our Assist team has an eager attitude that’s up for anything. If they’ve never dealt with your particular issue, they’ll try it out and do the work so you don’t have to. What’s more is that this is just a microcosm of the InterWorks culture as a whole. Our company is made up of brilliant individuals who never shy away from hard work and who are always willing to get their hands dirty for the greater good.

To get connected with the right person to come alongside you in your journey with tech, hit us up! Whether it’s through Assist or a more general inquiry, you’ll be put in touch with the best person for the job.

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InterWorks Ranks on the 2019 CRN Fast Growth 150, Good for Another Triple Crown

InterWorks was recently named to the latest edition of the CRN Fast Growth 150! We’re thrilled to be named to this list, which recognizes the fastest-growing IT solution providers in North America, for the fourth time. Of course, that’s not the only big news here. Given that InterWorks also landed on this year’s CRN Tech Elite 250 and Solution Provider 500, the addition of a Fast Growth 150 honor means that we have officially achieved our second CRN Triple Crown distinction!

Sounds Cool, but What Does It Mean?

We know we just hit you with a whole bunch of list names, numbers and exclamation points, so allow us to translate. Each year, CRN compiles a series of honor rolls that recognize best-in-breed IT solution providers and vendors. The Tech Elite 250 and Solution Provider 500 look at things like partnerships and breadth of IT offerings. The Fast Growth 150 looks at three-year revenue growth. If a solution provider like us manages to check all the boxes for all three awards, they are a Triple Crown winner.

A name like that does admittedly evoke strange “Kentucky Derby with computers” imagery, but what it really means to us on a macro level is that we continue to excel by the industry standard. That being said, we have standards of our own. While these awards are always fun to win, we’re less concerned with things like growth and more concerned with things like quality of service. Those things are hard to quantify, but they’re the driving force behind our business.

Try Us Out for Yourself

Again, we’re thrilled to receive outside recognition from the folks at CRN, but we care a lot more about doing right by you. Whether you’re new to us or you’re an old friend, we invite you to see what we’re all about as a people-focused data consultancy. Drop us a line below and discover how we can help you do your best work!

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InterWorks Blog Roundup – September 2019

Another month gone means another month of tech resources waiting for you! Featuring over 20 blogs and 30 contributors, this content roundup is full of analytics info and insights to guide you closer to your data goals. With loads of new posts covering everything from Tableau 2019.3 to peeks into our company’s love of video games, you’re sure to find the right piece for your needs and interests. Check out what’s new below:

News, Events and Culture

Tableau Tips, Tricks and Community

Tableau Vizzes

Portals for Tableau

Podcast Your Data

Data Management

Recorded Webinars

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InterWorks Excited for InnoTech Oklahoma 2019

When people think of the reasons they love fall, usually things like football, pumpkin spice and holidays come to mind. But for us? InnoTech Oklahoma! Don’t get us wrong—we love all those autumnal goodies, too—but big annual tech conferences just really get us excited.

This year, we’re proud to be a presenting sponsor once again for the 14th annual InnoTech Oklahoma. This event is the largest regional gathering of some of the top minds in tech and will be held at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, OK, on October 22. In-depth workshops, deep discussions, tons of networking opportunities and even more giveaways are packed into this one-day event.

Swing by the InterWorks Booth

When you’re in between sessions and have some time to spare, spend it with us! Drop by our booth for conversations with our team of experts, more swag than you could ever want (but trust us, you want it) and some big giveaways. Plus, we’ll have a big Plunko board set up for you to test Fate and see which prize she has written in the stars for you.

Attend a Session with InterWorks

After you walk away with your winnings, be sure you make it to one of the sessions we’re hosting.

Top Trends in Information Technology

Andrew Wooten and Adam Larch will be leading this session.

This session, part of the IT track, will talk about emergent tech trends and the ways they’ll influence future industries. You’ll hear how disruptive technology is forcing companies to stay even more flexible and adapt faster than ever.

Embracing Rapid Analytics

South Central Practice Lead Mat Hughes will be sharing his expertise as this session’s speaker.

Part of the BI track, this session will help you make sense of the inundation of data technologies available. We’ll help you identify the most effective tools for your BI stack that will create the best solutions for your analytics needs.

InnoTech IT group

Above: The InterWorks booth and some of our team at InnoTech 2018

See You at InnoTech

One of the premier tech events in the region, you won’t want to miss out on InnoTech Oklahoma. To learn more about the event and everything by visiting the InnoTech website, and remember to use code INTERWORKS9C to register for free!

Register Here

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The Road to Tableau 2019.3: How InterWorks Influenced Server and Content Migration Features

Tableau 2019.3 New Features

InterWorks fell in love with Tableau in 2008, and our Tableau expertise became a core part of the InterWorks identity. During those early years, Tableau was slowly winding its way through organizations. It would typically start out as a skunkworks project headed up by enthusiasts like us, eventually winning over the business leadership and finding its way into broad adoption across the enterprise.

It was during this period of broader enterprise adoption that we began to hear a recurring message from our clients: While Tableau is amazing for the desktop analyst and taking data decision-making to an entirely new level, it’s a tough product to manage within enterprise environments.

Something that has always made InterWorks unique is the scrappy nature of our people. When there isn’t a clear path or a button to push, we’ll blaze that path and build that button. Our consultants began building solutions for their clients and then sharing those with our other consultants until we had a toolbox full of scripts and templates that were shared across the team.

Out of this toolbox, Power Tools for Tableau was born. The toolbox was great for one-off client engagements, but these solutions were fragile and needed constant updating. We decided to build a full-fledged product that could provide similar functionality to our toolbox of scripts but would be robust enough that it could be trusted in enterprise environments.

What’s in a Tableau Workbook?

Our very first product was our Data Source Audit Tool. We bundled Data Source Audit with other small tools in our Workbook Tools for Tableau product. Our clients sometimes had thousands of workbooks, and something as simple as changing a column name in a data source could lead to a large disruption of service. Data Source Audit allowed customers to easily determine which workbooks used which data sources, columns and calculated fields, giving them the critical information they needed to make safe updates in their environment.

Data Source Audit is now deprecated. Tableau created the Tableau Catalog tool, available in their Data Management Add-On, that provides this functionality and more.

The Need for Tableau Workbook Migration

The understanding that larger organizations need the ability to easily move workbooks between multiple environments (e.g. Testing to Production) led to our next product effort. Our consultants would regularly be challenged to create migration solutions, but the solutions were always very customized to the individual client and usually built from scratch in each instance.

With that in mind, we built the Enterprise Deployment Tool (EDT). Organizations could now have their analysts build dashboards on their desktop and promote them to a development or test server. IT and other groups concerned with governance and security could review and ensure their requirements were met. Finally, the workbooks could be moved into a production environment and seen by all.

Tableau Server Resources Were Next

What happens when these larger organizations begin to fully utilize the power of Tableau? Aside from the benefits of true data and visualization availability, you begin to see Tableau Server resources straining to meet demand. Our team of consultants soon became experts in troubleshooting Tableau Server Resource issues, but this was often a laborious task of munging data from multiple log files and databases to understand the root cause of performance issues.

By Tableau Conference 2015, we were talking with accounts about the idea of a Server tool that would help monitor resource performance for larger implementations. We had our Desktop product running, and EDT was successful in many accounts, but we continued to hear that the #1 challenge our larger customers faced was resource management on their Tableau Servers. Going back to our scrappy consultants and their individual client successes, we sourced the idea of displaying performance results in one screen from the monitoring of both log files and hardware. Several of our accounts were interested, and offers for beta testing rolled in. Through 2016, we gathered feedback from our Server Workshops and other clients. We looked to understand the need further and create the best set of tools to address the issues.

Flash forward to February 2017 at our Server Workshop in Atlanta. We were set to show off some of the functionality from the new Power Tools for Tableau: Server, and one of our larger enterprise retail accounts was very interested. This became one of our first large-scale installations and we never looked back.

Announcing the Tableau Server Management Add-on

InterWorks has always built products and services targeted around innovation and serving gaps in the market. Beginning in 2013, our focus on the needs of our enterprise clients led to building these products that became Power Tools for Tableau. Working alongside Tableau through the entire process, we spent over six years in active development, sales, implementation and training of these products.

The InterWorks and Tableau partnership progressed even further this year when our performance and content migration tools were integrated into the Tableau family of products as part of the Server Management Add-on, released with Tableau 2019.3. We’re more excited than ever for our clients to get even more out of their Tableau investment using the Tableau Server Management Add-on, and we stand ready to help them utilize it to the fullest.

Detail Stories from the InterWorks Team

Finally, we feel it’s only fitting to leave you with two stories from the InterWorks team on their experiences with Power Tools for Tableau:

“2012. I’m in Chicago working for a client, specifically their mapping group which was driving Bing Maps. There were a hilarious number of foot-in-mouth experiences when using Google as a verb. At any rate, their IT group was blocking a broad migration from OBIEE to Tableau if Tableau couldn’t meet the requirement of developer not being allowed.

Even getting production and development (and QA and Staging) environments onto the same machine (as sites/projects) was months of debate. The challenge was three-fold: 1) take the workbook and remap the database from DEV to PROD 2) publish the workbook to the next environment 3) do all of that without teaching a whole team how to open Desktop, edit and republish. I dialed in some PowerShell help, did some Google Bing-Ing on XML manipulation in PowerShell and wrote what was a very early version of the Content Migration Tool. The system read from an XML config file that contained where-from, where-to, what-account, what-password kind of data; interacted with TabCMD; and was kicked off by the enterprise scheduler daily or so for years before we replaced it with real software in Power Tools for Tableau: Deployment.

We’re the only people that have ever scoped this stuff.”

James Wright, Global BI Practice Director

“As 2016 progressed, we didn’t want to assume that we had a monopoly on the best ideas for creating new functionality that was integrated with Tableau, so we decided to get back out on the road and spend time with the various Tableau user groups again. It would look a little different this time around. Instead of going into monologue mode on our latest and greatest functionality, we wanted to spend more time listening and gathering input in a collaborative workshop environment.

I brought their feedback to our development team who was actually in the process of building a new server monitoring tool that would be integrated with Tableau Server. We honed our efforts based on the workshop discussions. The team worked rapidly to incorporate new functionality over the months that followed, and we released this new tool (called Power Tools for Tableau: Server) at the end of 2016 at the Tableau Conference in Austin.”

Zion Spencer, Marketing Analytics Manager

What’s Next?

The InterWorks team is always busy exploring new ways to help our clients use Tableau more effectively. As far as Tableau 2019.3 goes, we’re ready to jump in and help you make the most of each new feature. If you’re ready to get started, particularly with the Tableau Server Management Add-on, we’d love to chat!

Contact Us

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