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Visualizing Fortune 500 with Tableau

October 6, 2015
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This blog is a humble effort to re-create the work of my favourite design studio Fathom of visualizing Fortune 500 companies but with Tableau. In this blog we will build a Dashboard to explore Fortune 500 for the year 1955 to 2005. We will build an interactive dashboard with the help of global filters and dashboard actions so that users can analyse how company’s rank has changed over time. One will also be able see the Revenue and Profit trends if any.


For the purpose of this blog we will source the data from publicly available data file of the listings found on Wikipedia. One might have to spend some time in order to collect and merge/collate the data for required metric for the analysis.

We will quickly understand the structure of the data that I have used and dimensions and measures therein.

The data has been sourced from listings available on Wikipedia and formatted appropriately for Tableau’s consumption. We have data for Fortune 500 companies between years 1955 to 2005 (55 * 500 = 25,500 data points) with information such as Rank, Revenue, Profit and web link to the company. The below table gives you a quick overview of important dimensions and measures present in the dataset.

Dimensions Measures
Year Rank
Company Revenue
Company Link Profit

Rather than asking question upfront, this time we will start making an interactive dashboard to answer our questions later.

Visualization Building

Step 1 – Connect to the data.

Open the Data worksheet from excel or text file that has the data. Note that we have all the dimensions and measures that we discussed above in the file Fortune500_1955-2005 opened below.

connecting data to tableau

Step 2 – Go to Sheet 1 and analyse/review the loaded data

reviewing data in tableau

Step 3 – Create a sheet with company configured as filter

The idea in this blog is to build a self explorable dashboard for which we need to give control in the hands of user to select a company to analyse its rank, revenue and profit over the years.

We are going to create a global filter for company and show it as quick filter with appropriate style (single value list).

To create a global filter, right click on chosen filter and then click on Apply Worksheets to select All Using This Data Source as shown below. The database or cylinder icon shown besides the Company dimension in filters shelf indicates that it is a global filter.

filter option in tableau

filter option in tableau

Step 4 – Create a simple tabular view of the min, max and median rank of a company

Create a simple table and use Rank measure thrice for computing highest, lowest and median rank of a selected company. The screenshot below shows the highest, lowest and median rank for General Motors. Name this sheet as “Ranks”.

creating a tabular view in tableau

Step 5- Create a sheet for plotting revenue and profit over time

In another sheet create a dual axis graph to show Revenue and Profit of the selected company over the years. Name this sheet as “Revenue & Profit”.

creating a new sheet in tableau

Step 6 – Create a sheet to plot rank vs. year for all companies

Place Year on columns shelf and Rank (selected as Dimension) on Rows shelf as below.

plot ranks vs years

Edit Rank axis to reverse the scale and apply custom range of 1 to 500 as shown below.

editing axis in tableau

Change the Marks type to Gantt Bar and adjust the colour transparency to 25% as shown below.

marks type in tableau

Put Company on Detail shelf as shown below.

steps for creating dashboard in tableau

We have our sheets ready for creating an interactive dashboard now.

Step 7 – Create a dashboard

Create a dashboard as shown below to include all the three sheets that we have created; Ranks, Revenue & Profit and Rank Trend. Format and lay it out as per your aesthetic choice.

creating a dashboard in tableau

We will add interactivity to dashboard by creating an action so that when a data point in Rank Trend sheet is chosen the other data points for the same selected company across the years are highlighted to create a visual rank trend.

We will create another action to dynamically change the other two sheets (Ranks and Revenue & Profit) to automatically get updated once a company is selected in Rank Trend sheet.

Let us create these two actions one by one.

Add a new highlight action by clicking Dashboard -> Actions.

Name the action as “Highlight Company”.

Select Rank Trend as source and target sheet. Choose “Select” as run action on.

Select “Company” for Target Highlighting ->Selected fields.

editing highlight action in tableau

Add a new filter action by clicking Dashboard -> Actions.

Name the action as “Filter Company”.

Select Rank Trend as source and Ranks and Revenue & Profit as target sheets. Choose “Select” as run action on. Choose Run on single select only.

Select “Company” for Target Filters -> Selected fields as shown below.

editing filter action in tableau

Dashboard Action once created should look like as shown below.

creating a dashboard in tableau

Step 8 – See the dashboard action in live

Click on any company in the Rank Trend sheet and observe the rank pattern of the selected company appear in front of eyes. The Ranks and Revenue & Profit sheet automatically gets updated based on the user selection.

live dashboard in tableau

Below is an animated gif of the dashboard that we have just created.

live dashboard in tableau

Stay tuned for more learning through visualization with Tableau.

About Tableau

Tableau (NYSE: DATA) headquartered in Seattle, Washington has a mission to help people see and understand data. It offers a product portfolio for data visualization focused on business intelligence.

One can visit the official Tableau website to find more details about Tableau and its product offering and features.


About the Author

Pranay Vasani from Mumbai is passionate about Data Visualization and Data Science. He works as a Senior Business Analyst in Business Intelligence and Pricing domain. He is a guest faculty for teaching Data Visualization with Tableau and a guest blogger at Edupristine.


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