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It’s been a thrilling 2.5 years since I first used Alteryx Designer, and let me tell you, it’s been really fast for all the right reasons. I went from being the first Designer user at Air Canada to leading both the Montreal and Transportation User Groups. In between, I found quick wins to convince our team that this was the best platform to fuel our analytics – today, our entire team uses Alteryx. I went from Data Prep and Blend to Predictive Analytic Apps, we graduated from the Automation Add-On to Alteryx Server, I attended 3 Inspires (Las Vegas ’17, Anaheim ’18, and Nashville ’19), and earned my Core Certification, with Advanced on the way later this year.
We’ve saved hundreds of hours automating and improving our processes, to the point where we have our own internal use case deck to share with other business units who are asking us how we’re doing what we’re doing.
Let me take a step back and break all this down.
I got my first license in March 2017 and started to play with Designer immediately. It’s hard to imagine that my first workflow was combining 3 Excel sheets using Union and Output tools!!! Whereas now, I’m building complex analytic app predictive workflows and deploying them to our Gallery. Even with a technology and data background, I impressed myself with how fast I was able to pick up the product 2 years ago for data prep, to building predictive models 2 years later (thank you Alteryx for making it so easy). Writing this blog post has really allowed me to take a step back and reflect on my journey so far.
Once I had a few workflows under my belt, I needed to convince my team that Alteryx was going to change the way we work every day for the better. I spent time with them to understand their day-to-day and built workflows for them. It was a project worth going through as it wasn’t long before they all got their own licenses and started to build their own processes for their respective portfolios. Today, they are building different workflows, macros, analytic apps, you name it! They’re deploying them to our Gallery for consumption. Some are even thinking of pursuing their Core Certification! Prior to this, we were the standard Access and Excel shop for our analytics. We’ve really come a long way to change the way we perform analytics.
Automation and Server
With the team now up to speed, the next major need was to get all those workflows scheduled, this would effectively reduce everyone’s PC processing load and ensure that all of our analytic processes were always up-to-date and streamlined. No more “Oh shoot I forgot to run this today.” But just as quick as we got on the Automation Add-On, we got off in favor of Alteryx Server. Scheduling our workflows was great, but now we needed to share our work, version control, and deploy our apps. Server is great for that and we all now work towards building analytic products that we can all share and use in our department.
Inspire, Certification, and User Groups
In between getting a few more Designer licenses and Alteryx Server, I had the chance to attend Inspire, first in Las Vegas, then Anaheim, and most recently, Nashville. I’ve taken full advantage of ramping up my analytic knowledge via the training sessions (predictive, spatial, time series), solution center, and networking.
It’s always great to meet my fellow Alteryx users that work in the airline industry. I’ve met great folks from the likes of Southwest, Alaska, Copa Airlines, and Boeing through breakfast meetups. Our impromptu breakfast at Inspire Anaheim actually led to the formal creation of the Transportation User Group. Being an analytics and aviation nut, I had to join! In fact, I volunteered to co-lead the group with Heather Harris and Isaac Otto. It’s amazing to see what everyone in my industry is using Alteryx for. In fact, through the networking power of User Groups at Inspire Anaheim, I met someone from a partner airline that worked in the same department as me. After a few conversations, he recommended building a workflow that would price my 3rd party data sets. This analytic app was effectively the foundation project that set off our next 5-10 analytic projects. A little networking goes a long way!
Montreal is known a hub for artificial intelligence, analytics, and great parties 😉 (Formula1, Jazz Fest, Just for Laughs, etc). There are many user groups here from Tableau to Power BI. Alteryx was the missing link. Fortunately, someone else had the same idea as me, and we quickly jumped on a call to get the Montreal User Group going. To date, we’ve had 4 meetings, averaging between 50-60 users. Shout out to my co-leaders, Scott Carr (@ScottyCarr), Freddy Colina (@fredcolina), and Mehdi Mahdaoui (@MMehdi).
I’m a huge advocate for Community. I think it’s extremely important to have an environment and culture where everyone can share ideas, thoughts, and get inspired (no pun intended). I also received my core certification at Inspire Anaheim, which I highly encourage and challenge everyone to do! I’m currently pursuing my Advanced Certification. If anyone needs tips on the core certification, let me know, I would be happy to share my thoughts, tricks, & tips!
Think of certifications as a way of validating your knowledge, not another exam that you need to pass.
Since becoming an Alteryx user, I’ve been able to automate all my manual and tedious tasks. We produce analytic content at an incredible speed and accuracy leading to time and cost savings. All our work is easy to follow and understand. It’s all documented within Designer. I’m now able to focus on analyzing my business unit and provide insights, which is the real value add. All of this is being done while building an analytic community in Montreal, across my industry, and furthering my knowledge of analytics.
What’s next for me? Sharing all my Alteryx knowledge with anyone who wants and needs it! Excited to see where I’ll end up 5 years from now! I’ll also be updating this blog the second I pass my Advanced Certification. Let’s see how long it takes from the post date until my next update!