Every ACE has a different passion: power-users within their company, bloggers pushing the boundaries of the product, etc. Community is always first for me. Alteryx has done such an amazing job connecting users through the new community forums. Because of my role at InterWorks, I focus on training, enablement and expansion of new users.
My blogs focus on the technical aspects of using the product. I remember how it was when I began using the product three years ago; online help was difficult to come by. So, now I focus on expanding the Alteryx knowledge base online through the community forums, social media and my blogs. If I do something cool with Alteryx, I don’t want you to just see that I’ve done something cool. I want you to come away knowing how to do it, too.
Q: Could you tell us a little about some of InterWorks’ initiatives surrounding Alteryx?
Treadwell: First and foremost, I want to say that Alteryx fits in so well with our consulting philosophy at InterWorks. We focus on client enablement, and that means leaving clients with solutions that they understand and can build upon. Alteryx offers a code-free approach to ETL and analytics, which allows InterWorks to empower employees from all segments of business.
I wouldn’t say that we have any specific initiatives related to Alteryx other than getting it into the hands of people that need it. Our goal is to empower clients to embrace the methods of a data-driven organization. One of the main ways we do this is through implementation of and training on the best tools in the business. Alteryx is the self-service data-analysis tool, and as an Alteryx Premier Partner, we definitely believe in its value.
Obviously, we are a Tableau shop. We wrote the book on Tableau, and we like to think of ourselves as the best of the best in Tableau consulting. Tableau and Alteryx work so well together, and we’ve seen a ton of success with the two working side-by-side. That being said, I’m speaking to a lot more quantitative businesses with an Alteryx-first approach. Alteryx is a powerful tool that stands on its own and does what it does exceedingly well.
At the end of the day, we want to do more of the things that we see working and less of the things that aren’t. That sounds cliché, but it is true. I am not here to push a specific toolset onto a client. We love to share the things we love, and we love Alteryx.
Q: What enhancements would you like to see added to Alteryx in the next one to two years and why?
Treadwell: I would love to see Alteryx use the upcoming data profiling tools to teach users of the predictive tools about modeling assumptions. Part of enabling users is warning them of potential pitfalls as much as giving them the ability to do even more.
If you talk to our data science guru Alex Lentz, one of his biggest concerns with the democratization of data science is analysts potentially losing sight of the assumptions required for analytic models to be trusted. We want people to be able to do more for themselves but we don’t want them to make decisions based on faulty models.
During the UX sneak peek, Alteryx was automatically checking variable distribution and assessing correlation. If this could be harnessed as part of the predictive tools, it would go a long way to help analysts make more correctly informed decisions.
Q: What do you see happening in the ETL market over the next few years? More self-service tools? Different integrations?
Treadwell: Integration here is key. The thing that we all hate about legacy systems is that they are sclerotic. New technologies happen, and when they do, your business has to be ready to utilize them. For example, Apache Spark is all the rage. Part of the reason is the Data Sources API, which allows unified data access regardless of how your data is sourced. The API is king. Nobody likes to hear that they have to pay even more money in order for the product they just bought to work. It’s like when you got a new toy as a kid, but it didn’t include batteries.
Alteryx, too, realizes this. That is why you see new data source options with every release. At Inspire, I sat in on a Databricks demo using the in-database tools with Spark. The list of connectors is constantly growing. It was announced in George’s keynote that Alteryx would now connect to Salesforce Wave Analytics. If the connector you want hasn’t been released, you can make your own using the Download tool and share it with others on your private Gallery. InterWorks can help you with that!
Don’t get stuck in a stack. Partner and work with the people who are doing the best things. That is the winning strategy. Otherwise, in five years, your brand new platform is just going to be another legacy system.
Q: What kinds of people do you see NOT using Alteryx? Why? What needs to happen in order to expand awareness of what Alteryx does?
Treadwell: The people I see not using Alteryx are the old-school DBAs, developers, etc. The people with the chops to handle whatever comes their way using the language of their choice. The one person in the office that everyone goes to when they are having a problem. These people are usually a little hesitant to pick up Alteryx because they can already do everything themselves.
The problem is that these characters often become overwhelmed or they are building solutions that nobody else can troubleshoot. Alteryx is about democratization. It is about helping analysts help themselves and providing a self-service analytics platform that everyone can understand.
We are always talking to our clients about "embracing the methods of a data-driven organization." That goal isn’t realized top-down from a few experts. That goal is realized through a groundswell because you are looking for a critical mass point where everyone is creating, sharing and collaborating. You want the process to feed itself. The first step in that process is providing a tool that everyone understands so everyone can contribute and not just consume. That is what Alteryx is for.
Q: We know Alteryx integrates quite nicely with Tableau Software. What other tools do you see Alteryx being used with?
Treadwell: Alteryx does integrate well with Tableau Software. Alteryx also integrates well with a number of tools. They have a ton of tech partners, input/output from tons of data sources and work with just about any tool that has an API.
In my experience with clients, I often see Alteryx used with AWS. Part of that is because AWS is now everywhere. The other part is that AWS partners with Alteryx, and they play so well together: elastic load balancing for Alteryx Gallery, in-database connections to Amazon Redshift, the ability to connect directly to S3, etc.
From what I see on the community forums, there is a lot of users connecting to Salesforce and Google Analytics. Everyone is trying to take their marketing to that next level and the ability to analyze your customer data with Alteryx is a huge draw.
Then, of course, there is R. That is the biggest deal to me. I am a heavy R user, and with predictive tools installed, there is seamless integration with R using the R tool.
Q: Finally, what advice would you give to those who want to dig deeper into analytics, specifically in tools like Alteryx?
Treadwell: I’m going to keep this one short because I’m sure everyone is tired of reading by now. Just use the product. The number one thing I hear from people is, "I didn’t know Alteryx could do that." So, stop wondering what Alteryx can do. Stop wondering what you can do. Just download the trial and start doing. Some of the best Alteryx users, even some ACEs, have been using the product for less than a year. That should tell you all you need to know about how great it is to work with Alteryx.
Just remember: If you have any questions you can ask us.
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