Keyrus were at Alteryx’s Inspire Europe conference again this year and had an engaging and informative two days. There was a lot to learn about their new offerings, the roadmap for next year and how this will affect the data analytics marketplace.
As one of Alteryx’s leading partners worldwide, certified at the highest partner level since 2013, Keyrus have long been working closely with Alteryx to help its clients optimize the way they are able to engage and interact with their data. With experience across data and analytics spanning over 20 years, it was exhilarating to see our longstanding partners’ latest features and capabilities and hear the reactions and thoughts from what is an ever-growing Alteryx community.
A few months ago, Alteryx announced ‘Connect’, a new addition to the Alteryx offering that focuses on meta-data management and governance. The Inspire 2017 Conference gave Alteryx the opportunity to demonstrate this new platform and highlight the value that it provides.
In short, Alteryx Connect is a social platform for smart data discovery; an online area that allows an organisation to share their workflows, data sources, dashboards and terminology so that users can search for, comment on and discover all areas of their analytics portfolio. For any organisation that hopes to breed a culture of data analysis and discovery, ‘Connect’ provides the perfect solution, allowing users to collaborate on data projects or find existing workflows or reports that will help them achieve their goal.
This all sounds pretty exciting for anyone interested in data analytics and discovery, and from the sounds of it, it is only the beginning. Alteryx mentioned numerous aims and developments for the future throughout the conference. These include compatibility improvements to allow for inclusion of reports and dashboards from a wide variety of areas and apps as well as improvements in the social collaboration spaces with inclusion of ‘Slack’ style messenger capabilities. If you’re interested get in contact with us or download a trial version here
Another major announcement was that of ‘Promote’ which should be fully with us early next year. ‘Promote’ resolves the common issue of how to deploy data science models built in Alteryx by providing a full solution for managing predictive models. When released, the platform will boast a full end-to-end data science system to enable the development, deployment and management of predictive models which will greatly assist with the full lifecycle of data science projects, from initial creation of the predictive model through deployment to production.
The deployment feature offers multiple options to allow for a much faster journey to full release; extending the code free interface provided by Alteryx Designer to allow for R and Python models to be accessible and deployable using a standard REST API. This will allow users from any skill level to quick and simply embed models into production applications and interfaces such as web pages with an auto-generated code in any language or format required.
One of the key features that Alteryx have been working on is the in-database functionality and toolset. The ‘In-DB’ quiver has had a few arrows added over the last few months and the functionality, capability and list of compatible databases is very impressive. The use of these tools greatly increases the speed and efficiency of data preparation, blending, analytics and now even predictive modelling by building the equivalent SQL queries for you as you create your workflow. Moving large amounts of data around is extremely time inefficient and can be very expensive but Alteryx allows you to avoid this by simply pushing an auto-generated SQL script into the database to perform the required processing. As you can imagine it’s much cheaper and easier to transfer a few lines of SQL code than tens of millions of rows of data!
In summary, the in-database functionality and capability is expanding and now supports over 20 different database types, allowing anyone to process large datasets within the database at efficient speeds and costs. The capacity of these tools is no longer limited to simple data blending as well, now that SQL Server supports several of the Alteryx predictive tools, giving simple easy-to-use access to advanced data modelling to those who can’t code.
The most impressive aspect of the Alteryx Designer is easily the vast functionality and wide variety of business problems that can be solved. Having grown from a simple data prep application, Alteryx now boasts a wide offering of predictive tools and it was keen to stress their data science offering at Inspire this year. Multiple examples were on display with businesses highlighting numerous impressive data science projects such as customer churn prediction, client targeting or machine learning for optimisation. These simple code-free tools can now also be optimised, tweaked and customised with a little know-how and technical expertise using the in-built ‘R Tool’, the Python SDK and the ‘custom Spark’ In-DB tool.
A relatively new solution to the marketplace is a technology called DataRobot, who are also a partner of Alteryx. This innovative tool makes predictive modelling intuitive and highly efficient by using an automated platform to run thousands of different models and analyse which is the most accurate and appropriate for the data set. With upcoming seamless integration with Alteryx this could be a game-changer for data science, exploration and prediction.
A highly noticeable aspect of the Alteryx business model is that the user and community come first. This is apparent in the direction that the tool and the offerings seem to be going as the roadmap and future is built around what their customers and users have been asking for. Some of the key improvements and additions we can expect in the not-too-distant future are detailed here: - Visualisation – Further enhancements to the in-app data profiling capability, including interactive charting and an improved Reporting toolset. Users will be able to pin datasets together in order to compare them as well as search, sort and filter within the browse tool. There is also talk of full data visualisation and dashboarding integration further down the line. - Data Science - Plans to include an ‘Alteryx Advisor’ that would help provide guidance for those looking to build predictive models were revealed. Mention of integrated machine learning capability was also made which would further improve the data science capability. - Engine – The CTO, Ned Harding, was very excited about the new ‘e2’ next generation engine that is being built. This promises to further increase speed by up to 10 times in some cases. - Community – As previously mentioned, this is the hub for Alteryx users and developers alike and will get a full refresh, with an addition of a ‘developer community’, broader language localisation and a full Gallery revamp to create a more collaborative marketplace.
If you’re interested in learning more about Alteryx or taking your Alteryx experience to the next level, why not enquire about one of our Alteryx Workshops or try out our Analysts Toolkit (KAT) to experience the capabilities of Alteryx and Microsoft’s Power BI deployed on the cloud, free of any installation or download. Link here.