Alteryx: The Multi-Tool for Your Data Journey


Alteryx: The Multi-Tool for Your Data Journey

At InterWorks we are all about the data journey. In the past, the journey to become a data-driven organization was slow and expensive like a long-term expedition force. InterWorks has a different way to climb the mountain, focusing on fitness, speed and experience. We help to quickly empower your existing people to embrace the goals and methods of a data-driven organization, all while assisting in breaking down the barriers that exist within your company. This is important because once the smoke has cleared and the consultants have gone home, we want you to lead your own data journey.

One of the ways we do this is through implementation of and training on the best tools in the business. Alteryx fits right in with our ethos at InterWorks: fitness and speed. It is one tool that does the job of many. It enables a small team to do the work of a huge force. We have seen Alteryx deliver time after time, and I have been lucky enough to be a part of that success at InterWorks. Just like the multi-tool on a climber’s belt, Alteryx is easy to learn and does many different things.

You probably already know that Alteryx is great at blending data from multiple sources; that’s the story you always hear. While it is true that Alteryx is a data-shaping tool, this sells the product short in a variety of ways. I describe Alteryx as a substitute for data-focused scripting languages like Python or R. It is a GUI for analytical programming, and each tool can be thought of as a predefined block of code.

Reducing your Technical Debt

The beauty of Alteryx is that it enables ad hoc analysis by breaking down the programming barrier. In the same way that Tableau provides ridiculously fast insight using a drag-and-drop interface, Alteryx removes the “how do I program this” from the analytic lifecycle. There are many businesses that are unable to gain new insight because their analysts are too busy holding down the status quo. Alteryx changes the cost-benefit analysis of “how much is this information worth” vs. “how long will it take to learn” by greatly reducing the programming overhead and expanding the number of capable developers in your organization.

In development, there is a term called “technical debt” that refers to the amount of work that needs to be done in order complete a job. We accumulate technical debt in our projects when we decide to get something done now instead of getting something done right. Alteryx helps to reduce technical debt in your project because it expands your developer base and is easy to troubleshoot. Because of its modular nature, it is also easy to refactor. With Alteryx, everyone is a developer, and you don’t need years of experience to get started. Just drag and drop your code. Once you are done, you have both a functioning script and a workflow diagram explaining your process.

Alteryx Designer

Above: Workflow in Alteryx Designer.

The Alteryx Ecosystem

There are two main components to the Alteryx ecosystem: Alteryx Designer and Alteryx Server. You only need Alteryx Designer to get started, but it is helpful to know what each one does. Alteryx Designer enables analysts to build and (with an add-on) schedule Alteryx workflow modules. This includes ingesting data from local or ODBC sources, using all tools that don’t require a data package and creating their own custom tools for use in other modules.

Users can clean and shape date, create custom Tableau polygons, send HTTP requests, create advanced statistical models and score data, pull data from popular social media outlets and much more.

Alteryx Server provides scalability to reduce the burden of running Alteryx modules on local developer machines. More importantly, Alteryx Server provides orchestration of jobs that is more advanced than simple scheduling. If there is an Alteryx module that is part of a larger process, Server provides the ability to call jobs from the command line or initiate jobs via HTTP request through the Alteryx Analytics Gallery API.

Alteryx Analytics Gallery, a feature of Server, allows users to share workflows, custom tools and analytic applications with other users through a custom branded web portal.

Alteryx Analytics Gallery

Above: Alteryx Analytics Gallery.

What Are You Waiting for?

In the time it took you to read this, you could have already built your first module. Sign up for a free trial and download Alteryx to get started. If you have any questions, check out our Alteryx blog or hop on over to the new-and-improved Alteryx Community forums.

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More About the Author

Michael Treadwell

Data Lead
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