Alter Everything

A podcast about data science and analytics culture.
Alteryx Community Team
Alteryx Community Team


We're joined by Daniel Brun for a chat about his cat, Harry Potter, and the Designer Expert Certification exam at Inspire Europe.





Daniel Brun - @danielbrun2LinkedIn, Twitter
Brian Oblinger@BrianO LinkedIn, Twitter



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Episode Transcription


BRIAN: 00:06 

Welcome to Alter Everything, a podcast about data science and analytics culture. I'm Brian Oblinger, and I'll be your host. We're joined by Daniel Brun for a chat about his cat, Harry Potter, and the designer expert certification exam at Inspire Europe, which he totally crushed, by the way. Alright, so I'm here with Daniel Brun. Daniel, welcome. 

DANIEL: 00:30 

Thank you. Thank you very much. 

BRIAN: 00:32 

Welcome to the show. So as always, let's start with you. Why don't you tell us a little bit about who you are, how you got into analytics, and anything else that's interesting. 

DANIEL: 00:40 

Yeah, sure. So I'm Daniel Brun, obviously. I'm a Alteryx ACE working out of Copenhagen. I'm 30 years old, live with my girlfriend and my cat, which you will probably see throughout the week [laughter]. So he's British as well, a British short hair, so he's looking forward to see the stage. 

BRIAN: 01:02 

Okay. Yeah, so we'll have to get a picture of your cat, and make sure we put it in the show notes for all of our listeners, it's very important. 

DANIEL: 01:09 

Sure. Sure. 

BRIAN: 01:10 

Very cool. So we're here at Inspire Europe. We're recording this. It's going to come out a little bit later in the year, but we wanted to go ahead and get you on the show. So tell us a little bit about that. Tell me about your, the things you've spoke about at Inspire before. Maybe, give us some of the flavor. Are you speaking this time? 

DANIEL: 01:27 

Yes, I am. So this time, I'm going to speak with Joe Lipski again. So we are going to speak about Harry Potter, and beer [laughter]. So definitely going to be a lot of fun, I think. So what we discovered last time we spoke is that, sort of the fun element, as well as some stuff you can actually go back and use really hits the audience. 

BRIAN: 01:54 

Good, good. Okay. And tell me about Joe Lipski. Is he good to present with? Let's get the inside track here on-- 

DANIEL: 02:01 

I really like to present with Joe. I think, Tuvi might be of different opinions. She's often getting a little bit nervous when we get close, and she gets the feeling that we're not prepared. We are, of course, but she's getting a little bit nervous. But I like to present with Joe. I don't know if Tuvi likes to present with me and Joe. 

BRIAN: 02:25 

So since this is coming out a little bit later, you won't be spoiling anything. Maybe, can you give us the broad strokes of the Harry Potter and beer bit here? What are we talking about? 

DANIEL: 02:36 

Yeah, so basically, what we did in Anaheim was to present on Disney Land. We kind of wanted to take a neutral topic, and also something positive and funny. And now we're in London, so we might as well look at Harry Potter and local beer [plant?]. 

BRIAN: 02:56 

Got it. So for other people that are maybe thinking about speaking next year in Nashville, or back again here in Europe, what kind of tips do you have? You said that you guys kind of wait, you like to get towards the end and make Tuvi nervous, but what would you recommend, I guess, for someone who's getting ready to speak at Inspire? 

DANIEL: 03:15 

Yeah, so definitely do not make Tuvi nervous [laughter]. That's not going to be a tip from here. But I think, so I've spoken two times before. And last time together with Joe, we really focused on something that was hands on, but also we really tried to make it interactive and funny. Because sometimes you sit for an hour at a session, and you have quite a few sessions a day, so you kind of need people to be alive and you do that by making it funny. Or at least that's what we figured out last time we presented. Whereas the previous time I presented, there was probably a little bit more content to it, but it was also kind of difficult to keep the audience for a whole hour. So put in a bit of jokes, try not to be too formal, but still give the audience something that they can really use. 

BRIAN: 04:13 

Sure. Okay. Very cool. So circling back to sort of your general work. I'd love to hear from you in your words, what do you do every day? How does that work flow look like? What kind of cool projects do you work on? Just give us a little bit of that flavor. 

DANIEL: 04:31 

Sure. So to be quite honest with you, I don't do that much Alteryx on a every day basis. That's probably also why I try to keep to making macros and why I try to keep part of the community, because that's when I get to spend time on actually using Alteryx. So I have a background in IT. Which means that I often solve a lot of the technical problems at Enviso. So even though it's really, really easy to connect to databases, sometimes you need a person who can bridge the gap to the IT department and get access to databases and solve some of the server issues that you might face. So I spend quite a lot of time on that. And then drawing architecture, drawings and stuff like that. 

BRIAN: 05:27 

So one of the things we hear often is this sort of narrative about analytics and IT, and how at some organizations they have a hard time because of IT and those kinds of things. With your background, I'd love to hear what are your tips? Or what's your outlook on how people can better bridge that gap with IT? 

DANIEL: 05:48 

Yeah, so one of the things that I usually do is that I say that we should keep IT in the loop, and we should take it very seriously. They are not playing bad guys just for the sake of being bad guys. They are usually playing bad guys because they get the feeling that people from analytics companies, so we're a consulting company, we go to companies and sell consulting services. And they often get the feeling that we are really good at Tableau and Alteryx. But what do we actually know about IT? What do we know about security? Do we actually tell the users not to send out emails with the sensitive information, and all that stuff. So usually, I'm on the first meeting, or the first two meetings, and then they get the sense that we're actually a company that care. And then they just start opening up, and then they don't care. 

BRIAN: 06:48 

Yeah. Yeah, I think with anything, it's one of those situations where, if you approach anything with a versus kind of approach, then it's probably not going to work out too well, but if you come at it as, hey, we're here to help, or try to build a partnership, we're trying to do the right thing, then you'll probably find that life can be a little bit easier for you. 

DANIEL: 07:06 

Yeah. And we also have customers where it's actually the IT department who bought Alteryx for general use, so [lock passing?], automation of ETL drops, all that kind of IT stuff that just lives in the basement, but they love Alteryx because they are able to do things faster. 

BRIAN: 07:27 

Yeah. Okay. So we talked a little bit about Tuvi before, because, so for those of you listening, we're referencing Tuvi Lee, who is the manager of the ACE program here at Altryx. So I'd love to dig into the ACE program a little bit with you. So when did you become an ACE, remind me? 

DANIEL: 07:44 

It's two years ago. 

BRIAN: 07:46 

Two years ago. 

DANIEL: 07:46 

I started working with Alteryx three years ago. So it's probably quite close to two years ago, because it was also on the London conference. That must have been in 16. 

BRIAN: 08:00 

Right. Right. Okay, and so tell me a little bit about being an ACE. What does that mean to you? What do you get out of it? What do you try to put into it? 

DANIEL: 08:08 

Yeah, so for me it's all about promoting the Alteryx product. So we have a saying in Enviso that we sell Alteryx as long as it's the best product on the market. And we continue to believe so, and that's also why it's very easy to be an ACE, because it's very easy to promote. And then provide a lot of stuff to the community. So I have started the Enviso Macro Pack, which is basically building tools for Alteryx for free. I tried to answer quite a lot of questions on the community. And then I speak at conferences. I speak at universities, try to bring Alteryx out to the crowd. 

BRIAN: 08:59 

Great. So we'll definitely put a link in the show notes to the macro pack. That would be great. And then, so tell me a little bit about, so you mentioned something that's kind of interesting to me is, you were saying we go out and we evangelize Alteryx, right? We use it in our projects with our customers. What does that process look like for you? Because I think that some consultants or partners will, there's this whole idea, I guess, of how much of the work do you do, versus enabling a customer? What's your outlook on that? 

DANIEL: 09:31 

Yeah, so what we have seen so far, Enviso is four years old is that, if we continue to enable customers, there will usually be so many projects, or at least at large customers, that they will still need consultancy. So for us, it's all about enablement, and sort of scaling Alteryx in the business. And part of that enablement process, bring in new projects. So we have something called Alteryx Thursday, where we go out to the customer for half a day for free just for enablement. And usually it happens that we actually bring a project home, because we're just present, and people see us, and they see that we are good at what we actually do. So 80% enablement, 20% consultancy from a sales perspective. We still do quite a lot of consultancy. 

BRIAN: 10:30 

Cool. And so on the enablement, you said it's 80%. That's really interesting. So when you say enablement, what does that mean? Is it [training?]? Is it Alteryx Academy? What does your typical enablement path look like for someone who has never seen Alteryx before? 

DANIEL: 10:46 

Yeah, so obviously we have free trainings. So pretty much every Thursday, you can come in for free, have a full day of training, and a free lunch, and that's sort of first step of the journey. If a company has more than six employees that are ready to learn Alteryx, then we go directly to the client to sort of bring it into a company setting. They can actually show the data that they're working on, and we are confident in trying to help out getting started with that. And then next step is that when you get to a certain size, then we have these Alteryx Thursdays where you can actually show up and have a consultant look at your problems so you can get going. 

BRIAN: 11:34 

Okay. And what about user groups, right? So I think we have the local user groups, and maybe you can talk a little bit about that, but also one of the things we've been trying to spur a lot of our customers into is actually having internal user groups, right? Where they keep up with each other. Hey, what are you working on, on a regular basis? Is that something that you've seen or? 

DANIEL: 11:55 

Yeah. So we try to encourage clients for us, so customers of Alteryx, to have these internal user groups. We also see newsletters, weekly meetups, yeah. So definitely a thing we are trying to. And then we also try to have a yearly sort of Alteryx day, where people from all around the company show up and have a full day. Speakers form Alteryx, speakers from Enviso, advance training, all that kind of stuff. But sort of once a year to bring up the hype around Alteryx. 

BRIAN: 12:35 

Cool. What's the reaction to that? Who attends those? So you say it's all around the company. Are people discovering new use cases? I guess a lot of them are seeing Alteryx for the first time, maybe? 

DANIEL: 12:47 

Yeah, so I think Connect explains it pretty good. There's always a couple of persons inside the business that know all the data sources. They know how to work with them. They know how to modify them to fit the right purpose and all that stuff. And I think, what's really coming up to these days is that people actually get to meet each other. So this guy sitting in another department, who's really good at analytics is not just that guy anymore, but you actually get to put a face on him. 

BRIAN: 13:21 

Yeah. It's funny you mention that. We've definitely seen that, too, where we'll have people at some large corporation somewhere. Some are working in Finance with Alteryx, and then somebody's working in Sales, or whatever, and often times they don't even know that each other exist, or that they're using common tools. And so we do our best to bridge them together so that they can get the most out of it, and often cases, things that they've built, whether it's connectors, or workflows, or whatever, can be reused, right? So they don't have to redo it all over again. And to your point, I think that's where Connect and things like that are coming in where they're starting to discover, oh, there's someone else who's doing this, and I don't have to reinvent the wheel every time. 

DANIEL: 14:03 

Yeah. And I think it's sort of a, it's a fine line between spending too much time on sharing stuff, and on the other hand, just letting it sort of explode inside the business. And then maybe afterwards, sort of streamlining it, because we also see cases where it doesn't bloom, because you spend too much time on sort of governing the implementation of it. And I think it's also, it's a shame to receive five or six work flows after a year, just because you spend a lot of time on governance, where you don't really need it. And then you also see cases where it just explodes, and you kind of get to the point where you need to streamline things in order to make it sensible. 

BRIAN: 14:59 

Yeah. Okay. So let's talk a little bit about, I'd love to hear your, what's the coolest thing you've ever done with analytics? We ask a lot of people that question, we get some interesting answers. 

DANIEL: 15:12 

Yeah. So that's also going to be one of the questions for tomorrow. And what I'm going to show is that I'm going to show the community dashboard. It's, I actually got an email from you [laughter] once, saying could you please not scrape the Alteryx community, because I'm worried that you put in too many requests for it. And then we got to a sensible point where I only scrape once a week, and make sure that I didn't throw too many requests at the same time and stuff like that. But I think it was a really cool case. I think it took me around four, five hours. And basically what I did was to take the whole Alteryx community, loop through the pages, and download all the posts. See whether they were resolved, how many stars did they have? How many replies? And then I published it to a Tableau dashboard. And it really helped me. So it's probably why I got to be an ACE, because it was really easy for me to see who had zero answers in the community. That's usually what I hate, myself. If you post something and nobody answers, the answer might be no, but then you at least know that it's a no. So it was really easy for me to find the topics that didn't receive any answers, and it was easy to find the topics that weren't solved. But I think it really proves how [averse tile?] Alteryx is. It's everything from passing really structured data from a database and combining data, to passing HTML files and doing the whole scripting idea and bring that into life. So that's, I think that's one of the really cool things that I built that also made an impact. 

BRIAN: 17:20 

Yeah. Oh, it made an impact for sure in my page views [laughter]. 

DANIEL: 17:26 

And on just old cases. 

BRIAN: 17:27 

Right, that's right. No, thank you. And you know what's funny is, yeah, no, I actually love the idea of people using the community as a platform to do other things. So actually, anybody who's out there listening, I actually encourage people to do things like that with community and community data. But I do have to pay bills occasionally, so there's the balance, right? But yeah, no, I love that. That was a great project. Any other ones that you wanted to give a shout out to? 

DANIEL: 17:56 

Yeah. So I just helped my girlfriend make her master thesis. So she needed some data to do her thesis. And I don't know how it is in other countries, but usually you have to spend quite a lot of time on generating quite little data. So she were writing on mobile payment solutions, and I needed some data showing what do people actually say about mobile payment solutions? So I went to the app store, and I figured out there there were endpoints for scraping the commons from the app store. So I did that in Alteryx, created a word clouds that sent an analysis. Did a lot of [fashion?] matching, because people have to, often tend to write the same thing in ten different ways. And I think it took me, yeah, probably six hours to make 2000 comments ready for her on her thesis. 

BRIAN: 19:05 

And did you charge her for this service, or you just did this one on the free? 

DANIEL: 19:10 

Yeah, we have shared economy, so it wasn't worth it. So no, but I think it's, yeah. I really like when I use Alteryx for something that really sort of falls out of the ballpark. So I often connect to databases, and I often show a demo on [safe?] data. But I think it's really cool when you can use it for other things. And it would probably have taken my girlfriend 30, 40 hours just to get near that amount of data for her thesis. So it also made my life a lot easier [laughter]. Even though I didn't charge her. Yeah. 

BRIAN: 19:53 

Oh, there it is [laughter]. And has she presented this yet? Or is that still to be presented? 

DANIEL: 20:01 

That's still to be presented. 

BRIAN: 20:02 

Okay. Because you're on the hook now. You know that, right? You know that you're-- 

DANIEL: 20:05 

Yeah, I asked her just before this talk if I could mention the thesis. 

BRIAN: 20:12 

Alright. Well we'll get an update for our listeners on whether or not that flew. Okay, great. One of the things I wanted to ask you about, too, because you were a prolific participant with Santalytics, which we've done a couple of years in a row, I believe, and I think you did some interesting things with with that with your user group, is that right? 

DANIEL: 20:32 

Yes, I did. Yeah, so basically, I thought that Santalytics was a really, really good way of playing with data, and that's what I like to do when I spend time with Alteryx is to play. So basically I thought, let's bring Santalytics to a user group. So we divided people into groups, and then the groups had to solve the Santalytics case, and we were a couple of consultants that sort of facilitated that everyone had some kind of progress in the task. And it was really funny, and then there was a little present at the end. And I got to stand in a big corporate bank, wearing a Santa costume. So hopefully there's no pictures of that. 

BRIAN: 21:25 

I was just going to ask [laughter] if there's photographic documentation of this somewhere. 

DANIEL: 21:29 

No, we can maybe do it again. But I think it's also the weekly challenges. It's really nice to be able just to play instead of having this, yeah. So as a consultant you kind of, yeah. Your customers pay hourly rent, and you really have to be focused, and you really have to keep in mind that you need to solve the problems at hand. So if you see a new, funny angle, you don't really get to just spend five hours on it, because it's kind of not your own money. 

BRIAN: 22:05 

Cool. So for Santalytics, so for anybody listening, I guess I should say, if you don't know what Santalytics is, you should go to the community and type it in. It's something that we've done every year, for the last few years, where we've sort of put out a weekly challenge, or challenges around this, and we do it around the holidays, thus the Santalytics. But Daniel, for you, if we're going to do that again, what suggestions do you have? What should the challenges be? Or is there anything else, kind of more fun we should do to spice that up? Because we're always looking for great ideas. 

DANIEL: 22:38 

Yeah. I will really encourage people to participate. That's kind of the first thing. I think you should keep it to a funny topic. So I think, was it last year, or the year before? It was really around which kids should have coal or presents [laughter]. And I think it's really cool. So maybe go into predictive. I know there's be spatial, and just prep and blend and clean. But I think it could be funny to go into predictive as well. 

BRIAN: 23:16 

Yeah. Well maybe if there's anybody out there who's getting ready to write their master's thesis, we can just have that be one of the Santalytics projects, and hey, we'll take care of a couple things at once there, it'll be great. 

DANIEL: 23:28 

Yeah. And then just make sure that everyone can participate. I think it's also funny to see how many different solutions there are to stuff. And so it's funny for beginners to participate, because you can actually solve the exercise, but it's also funny to see the guy who spent three years in Alteryx, solving it exactly the same, but with half the tools. 

BRIAN: 23:59 

Yeah, I think that that's definitely one of the number one benefits of weekly challenges is, we ask a question, we put some data out there, and you'll see literally hundreds of people, in some cases, getting the same answer, but arriving there in wildly different ways. And we've heard from people, of course Nicole Johnson, well documented story there. Just in terms of the ability to learn the product based on, well why did they do that way? Or they have ten less tools that I do, but they got the same answer. Why is that? The variance in there is amazing, and then what's also great about that is, the community has become the number one repository, easily, in the world, of Alteryx workflows, that you can just go download and start building things off of. And I think, hopefully over the next few years, we're going to see a shift from people building them from scratch to maybe starting with something that they've found on the community or the gallery or whatever it is, and then modifying it, right? And saving even more time savings than maybe some understanding better of what they're trying to build. 

DANIEL: 25:05 


BRIAN: 25:06 

Okay. Very good. So to wrap us up here, let's go to community picks. So tell us what's been interesting to you, or something that you think people should go take a look at? 

DANIEL: 25:19 

Yeah, so again, I really encourage people to look at weekly challenges. That's a really good way to get started. And it's also a really good way to get certified. We spent quite a lot of time on being certified, because we kind of also have to show on paper that we are really good at doing what we do [laughter]. So I'm taking the expert exam on Wednesday. I actually told myself not to tell anyone, because it's the expert exam, so it's probably going to be difficult. And then just reading through post on the community is, it's really funny to see what kind of problems people have, and it really gives some great fundamentals for taking your own analytics to a new place. So people that want to use At Words, Facebook, what do people actually do when they need to work with those data sources? And for me it's also a great learning, because I can maybe build the connectors, but I often don't know what you use the data for. So it's really nice to see what kind of people have problems because it gives some sense on what work they actually do. 

BRIAN: 26:48 

Right. Okay, and for any of our listeners out there, the aforementioned certifications. So if you're interested in that, you've never seen those before, definitely go to the community and go into Alteryx Academy, and then the certification tab. And of course, the beginner core designer and the advanced designer are free. And they're online, it's your own pace. Daniel here is taking the expert exam, which we have currently only offered live at the Inspires, because there's some proctoring and things like that. But I think, I heard that there's somewhere around 45 or 50 people signed up, so you won't be alone in there [laughter]. You'll have some competition, I guess, if you want to look at it that way, or some support if you want to look at it a different way. 

DANIEL: 27:30 

I might lose my ACE t-shirt [laughter]. 

BRIAN: 27:33 

No, no, no, no, no. No, the expert exam, I will tell you, is very difficult, on purpose. I think in Anaheim we had 10 or 12 people in there, and one person passed it. And it's actually really funny, it's Jesse Clark. And on his Twitter bio, it says THE Alteryx Certified Expert [laughter]. But, yeah, no, we wanted it to make sure that these things are, they're challenging. But one thing I will say is a lot of the people that we saw in Anaheim, because a lot of it's a practical exam, they were so close. So, so close. So try, try again. But we'll be rooting for you. I know I'm in your corner. And probably by the time this comes out, we'll know the results. So we'll post an update in the show notes for people [laughter]. 

DANIEL: 28:21 

We might post an update. 

BRIAN: 28:22 

Yeah, we might. If it's a positive update, we will definitely post an update. But I think you're going to do great. So I'm there with you. 

DANIEL: 28:29 

But I think for core exam, and the advanced exam, it's really the fail fast and fail often. So you might as well just go and take the exam, and then you get a really good sense on where you are in regards to certifying. 

BRIAN: 28:45 

Right. Well and that's been one of the keys to that whole thing is because it's free, and you get, I believe three chances when you sign up for it, we notice people jumping into it a lot more often, or I guess ahead of what normally you would see people do. Because when you have to pay a lot of money for a certification, there's a lot on the line. So people are definitely using it as a learning experience and you're seeing, I think the average person, or the average ticket, one and a half times or something, and then they pass it, right? So yeah, don't be discouraged if you take it the first time and you miss one or two questions too many. Just go back and take it again, right? And yeah, get certified. 

DANIEL: 29:25 


BRIAN: 29:25 

Good. So I think we're going to be releasing this around the holidays at some point. So given that, I wanted to give my community pick. As you know, with Alteryx For Good, we're really into giving back to our communities, and thinking about those kinds of impacts that we can make beyond just business. So one of the things I wanted to just give a shout out to for anybody listening is there's this organization called Giving Tuesday, and you can find more about them at But what's great about it is is it's basically the reverse Black Friday. Right? So instead of shopping and those kinds of things, they do this on the 27th, so I don't think it'll collide with your Black Friday shopping. But it's all about sort of doing the reverse of the going and buying a bunch of materialistic things. Instead it's about volunteering and giving back. You can just donate if that's what you have the capacity to do. And they actually have events all around the world. So we'll put this out ahead of time. Hopefully people can look that up and give back a little bit. We've already started getting some emails in the office in Irvine, scheduling some events for us for Alteryx For Good. So of course we're all on board with that here at the podcast. So Alright. Well, hey, thank you Daniel for coming out. Thanks for taking the time. 

DANIEL: 30:43 

Thank you very much for inviting me. 

BRIAN: 30:46 

Yeah, absolutely. We wish you well on the expert exam. We will check in with you. And we wish your girlfriend well on her Master thesis. We're also counting on her for that as well. 

DANIEL: 30:56 

Thank you. 

BRIAN: 30:56 

Yeah, great. And enjoy the rest of the show. 

DANIEL: 30:59 

Thank you very much. See you Brian. 

BRIAN: 31:00 





This episode of Alter Everything was produced by Maddie Johannsen (@MaddieJ).