This year’s Alteryx Inspire 2019 conference, held in Nashville, was a solid demonstration of how empowering people becomes a positive and energizing force that’s rather contagious. Through the consistent messaging and theme of the conference, Alteryx clearly is all about being the instrument and community that empowers business analysts to amplify what they can do with data, develop the confidence to develop analytic cultures within their companies, and advance their own personal careers. The traction with this messaging was evident through enthusiastic stories from attendees who are passionately working with data and mentoring others to make an impact at their companies across industries.
On the technology front, Alteryx is developing the self-service data analytics tools for business analysts, power users, and citizen data scientists to fill the shortage gap that is holding back many companies from becoming fully data and analytics-driven. With the next wave of machine learning analytics upon us, citizen data scientists will offload much of the data scientist’s work of data discovery and prep, freeing the data scientists to focus on analytics challenge suited to their specialized skills. Therefore, having one platform that integrates the collaborative work of both groups will accelerate the modern analytics journey. Alteryx wants to be that platform by empowering business analysts and inviting data scientists to bring their work into the platform for visibility, transparency, and to preserve the quality and intent of the data and desired analytics outcome.
One platform to serve the modern analytics journey in companies was a reinforced theme at Inspire 2019. To be clear, Alteryx wants to position itself as the “industry-leading analytics process automation platform” and has defined its core guiding principles to include automation, full transparency, open and extensible, scalable environments that are easy to use and focus on the Alteryx mission to empower the business analyst. Keep in mind that with the 2019.2 released at Inspire, also included 148 customer-requested enhancements with another 100+ in development for 2019.3 to balance their customer needs with product strategy.
Beyond the platform and technology, Alteryx puts a strong emphasis on a thriving analytics culture through community building and peer collaboration. As CEO Dean Stoecker commented, “analytics is a collaborative experience,” and these communities amplify use case awareness, knowledge of the tool, and use of the tool, with some organizations citing 160% growth in the use of Alteryx tools through the community. This is essential to Alteryx’s “land and expand” sales strategy, an approach that is healthy and well-understood by their executives and customer support teams. Many speakers and attendees commented about the wealth of resources available through the community and how their account point person/CSR was a willing, highly responsive source of help. Inspire also did a good job of showcasing customer stories and tangible insights for how to build that community, citing instances of growth from 5 users to 50 to 500 and over 1,000 directly from the people who did it. Between the sessions and the bustling exhibit hall, Inspire proved to be an opportunity for its users to increase their knowledge and feel that the belonged to a thriving community.
In our observation, the upcoming Assisted Modeling and demonstrations received the most attention and buzz from attendees. While the ability to select data science routines and compare their predictive strength isn’t particularly ground-breaking, the ability for business analysts to easily do so brought them one step closer to advancing citizen data science. Interestingly, many attendees were quick to point out that Alteryx’s ability to quickly develop and easily automate data management processes – reducing some processes from days and hours to minutes - is the unsung hero and bread and butter of their work. For many of these analysts, their companies have only just begun the AI and machine learning journey, and Alteryx is saving people from “spreadsheet hell” and making an impact on the backlog of data processing and analytics work needed by the enterprise. According to Alteryx, this is the foundation for digital transformation with modern analytics.
Radiant Advisors was particularly interested in understanding how the recent acquisition of ClearStory Data was going to be leveraged and integrated along with the past acquisitions of SEMANTA and Yhat. The ClearStory Data team will clearly add engineering depth with their Spark-native and cloud-native development experience along with IP in data harmonization and discovery. This should allow the Alteryx workflows to run on the Alteryx Server (currently C++ and Windows-based) or run complex big data workloads on a Spark cluster preferably in the cloud. Their ML-driven data corrections should also assist business analysts to be more efficient. Logistically, Alteryx also gains a footprint in Silicon Valley with the former ClearStory headquarters becoming an Alteryx Innovation Center.
As Alteryx grows worldwide, it continues to build its executive leadership. Recent additions to the senior executive team include Sharmila Mulligan as chief strategy officer (founder and CEO of ClearStory), Alan Jacobson as chief data and analytics officer (from Ford Motor Company in data science/digital transformation), and Derek Knudsen as chief technology officer.
Radiant Advisors would like to extend a special thanks to the Alteryx Analyst Relations team for coordinating many informative sessions with executives and customers.
John O’Brien is Principal Advisor and CEO of Radiant Advisors. A recognized thought leader in data strategy and analytics, John’s unique perspective comes from the combination of his roles as a practitioner, consultant and vendor CTO.
Julie Langenkamp is SVP, Applied Research for Radiant Advisors. With an primary focus on data enablement, Julie monitors trends and vendors in the industry to deliver research that is educational and informative