By Jeff Koyen
The global economy today produces more data per minute than entire decades of human activity once did. Nearly every company, large and small, has become its own super-productive data factory. As a result, more employees across all sectors will want to be empowered to perform high-level data analysis.
“As data complexity rises and the volume of data is tripling every three years, there’s only one way to tame this complexity, and that’s through automation,” says Libby Duane Adams, Alteryx’s chief advocacy officer and cofounder. “That means automation of data quality, automation of analytic insights and also the ability to automate advanced predictions in business.”
Alteryx provides a powerful, end-to-end data analysis and automation platform that is designed for everyone in an organization—no data science degree or coding experience required.
“At Alteryx, we approach data analytics with a focus on enabling the user to solve simple to very complex questions, whether they’re a beginner, a novice or an advanced analytics professional,” Duane Adams says. “Our platform is approachable at all levels, which is key in empowering any employee in any department or sector to derive meaningful insights from data for high business impact.”
Just how easy and accessible are these tools? And if they’re easy to use, are they also powerful enough to tackle the toughest tasks in data analysis? Finally, exactly why should executives and other business leaders invest in widespread data fluency for their workers?
Duane Adams spoke to those questions from her home office in Denver.
Analytics For Everyone
In-depth data analysis used to be a luxury reserved for large organizations that could afford the costly hardware, software and human talent required. With technology like Alteryx, this is no longer the case: Data analysis has been democratized.
To help business leaders understand how their organizations can benefit from more insights into their data, Duane Adams poses a few hypotheticals:
Which of your customers are likely to leave you, and why?
Which machine part in your production line is scheduled to be replaced next?
What are the tax payments that need to be made in each of the 34 states where your company is doing business?
These questions, and “millions” more, Duane Adams says, can be answered with data analysis.
“Within both large and small companies, we [help] automate complex business processes that traditionally involve manual and tedious work,” she explains. “The software and education we provide quickly upskills data workers, allowing them to spend more time in the creative analysis step and delivering impact to the organization due to easy, self-service access to data, analytic insights and predictions.”
What’s more, it doesn’t matter where these data originate. Whether data are coming from a spreadsheet or somewhere in the cloud, Duane Adams says, Alteryx can handle it.
Close The Talent Gap
You’ve got terabytes of raw data piling up on your servers, and you can’t uncover insights from it fast enough. Sounds like you need to hire a data scientist.
Not so fast.
“There’s a shortage of statistically trained data scientists in the world,” Duane Adams says, pointing out that there are over 30 million businesses in North America alone and fewer than three million data scientists on the entire planet. “The math tells you there’s not enough data scientists to go around.”
That’s why upskilling is so important. With the help of a user-friendly data analytics platform and a community stacked with learning resources, it’s now possible to rapidly advance “business analysts who may be earlier in their skills development,” she explains. Line of business users can become “citizen data scientists” who uncover fresh insights that might otherwise remain hidden.
Take invoicing, for example.
“Invoices [alone] don’t tell you what the demand is in the market for a product or service,” Duane Adams explains. “It tells you what the supply was [and] what was shipped and billed.”
Under analysis, static invoices transform into dynamic data sets that, when connected to data across business units, yield actionable and even predictive insights into the larger business.
“[We] empower employees with the ability to understand and execute on data analytics,” Duane Adams says. “We see this as a top business benefit.”
Let Your People Shine
When software is built to be as user-friendly as possible and is made accessible to everyone, you may find it no longer appeals to the original diehard user.
That’s not the case with Alteryx, says Duane Adams. “Even the most experienced and technical users still rely on Alteryx to automate processes and reap time savings.”
In fact, she says, user-friendly platforms provide professionally trained data scientists with one key feature that, until now, has been missing: reusability.
Duane Adams recalls how one data scientist’s life was changed: “[He was] copy-pasting, dragging formulas, sorting, pivoting and then repeating this again and again. Hours were spent just manually trying to wrangle the data to get an answer. The process would then have to be repeated the next week or the next month, whatever the cadence was.”
This data scientist told Duane Adams, “I didn’t get my PhD to copy-paste. I want to use my analytics skills to solve.”
Working on a single, unified platform built specifically to meet their needs, data scientists now build their formulas and functions just once—and return to them as needed.
“With Alteryx, this data scientist and others like him can immediately move on to those higher-value questions and bigger problems, all while advancing their skills,” Duane Adams says.
A View Into The Future
As the world’s volume of data continues to grow, there is a clear demand for more powerful analytics. Not just to look backward to spot mistakes and missteps, either. Hidden within data are the insights that can drive better predictive decisions.
“Don’t tell me what happened yesterday; tell me what’s going to happen tomorrow so I’m ready for it and I’m planning for it,” Duane Adams says. “That’s what this is truly about.”
Jeff Koyen is an award-winning journalist, media entrepreneur and early cryptocurrency investor. He lives in Curaçao with his family.