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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work with large top-tier Global companies?  What words come to mind?  Intimidating?  Scary?  Overwhelming?  Stressful?  While that may be the image you are holding in your head right now, I can assure you that what I’ve discovered is something quite different and unexpected.


Alteryx has been part of my life for the better part of fifteen years.  I’ve learned it, trained it, evangelized it, written about it, dreamed about it, and ACE’d it.  In 2021, I joined Alteryx and a team of Customer Success Managers, or CSMs for short.  CSMs are responsible for making sure companies utilize their investment to the fullest – providing a range of services like training, office hours, User Groups, and hackathons.  Fairly soon, I was given what I thought would be a daunting task: working with large Global companies.  I thought, due to their size, their expectations, and their prestige, that maybe I would not be up to the task.  What I’ve come to learn, however, is that working with large global companies comes down to one thing, people.  Or better said, Big Companies are People Too.


Big Companies Are People Too


Big companies are made up of people just like you and me – they just happen to have more of them.  The sooner I stopped thinking about helping Company A or Company B and started thinking about how I could help Individual A or Individual B, the better my understanding. 


Sure, the activities I mentioned above are powerful in terms of teaching people software, but they are also powerful in terms of building relationships.  People remember the one person who sat down with them and heard them out.  People remember the one person who took time out of their day to help build a solution that made them the hero in front of their department or their boss.  People remember the person who showed up for them and delivered training to hundreds of team members so they could complete their personal goals, like achieving certifications. 


Empathy goes a long way.  One stakeholder at a large company was working on a problem for several weeks and was coming up against a deadline to deliver results when she reached out to me for help.  She had already invested significant time in the project, and it was coming down to the wire.  It was clear that it was going to take multiple working sessions to get it solved.  I had been in those shoes before.    We scheduled those extra working sessions and achieved a successful result in time for her to deliver.  The relief on her face was extremely apparent.   At any point during those sessions, was I thinking about how much I was helping a Big Company achieve results?  No.  However, by showing true concern and compassion for one person in need of help, I was able to have an impact within a large company, even if it was one individual at a time.


Innovative Beyond Belief – Driven by People


One thing I’ve come to understand is that big companies often have larger asks, which call for larger innovation.  They have attempted things I had never considered because I had not been challenged to think as innovatively as they think.  


One company I have worked with has done some amazing things with data and gone above and beyond to build custom applications that help them capture the insight that they need to run the business.  They have pushed the boundaries of what our software can do and, because of that, often push for change to make the product better. This still comes down to people.  Having the right people with team-oriented mindsets, because very often, it isn’t one person who can build something so impactful and so amazing, but it requires significant collaboration from cross-functional teams, which leads me to my next point.


They Collaborate – With People


IT and the business teams work together to achieve more.  While there is often tension between IT wanting to have an ‘Enterprise tool of choice’ and the Business wanting to work with a tool of their choosing, I have seen instances where both teams are on board with Alteryx as their tool of choice.  This creates great synergy and communication, as all are working toward a common goal instead of always trying to justify their position.  This often involves finding at least one key stakeholder in each department who is willing to work together and remove barriers within their own department. 


Alluding to one of my earlier points, empathy goes a long way here as well.  When each side tries to enforce that it knows the right way, it sets up a win/loss situation.  I have seen a scenario where a collaborative ecosystem was put in place and thriving.  Then it collapsed when the original stakeholder moved to a new position.  The new team was so heavy-handed about how they were planning to go forward that almost the entire other team left the organization. 


In my experience, the teams that are successful can come together toward a common goal and produce the kind of synergy needed to run a large, best-in-class system.


They Evangelize – To Other People


They evangelize both internally and externally, as some of the best and most innovative ideas are generated within these companies, and others are eager to hear about their success.  They promote internal User Groups, Use case sessions, contests, and newsletters.  They volunteer to present at external events, including our annual conference, Alteryx Inspire.  They realize that others can learn from them.  This is often how I learn about best practices, the state of data and the industry, and blogs, books, and podcasts that can improve my understanding.   


They Nurture Their People


They nurture that talent through culture, training, and recognition.  They want to make sure that people know each other on a first-name basis, not ‘just that person in Marketing’ or ‘that person in Accounting’.  They host social events so people can get together on a more informal basis.  They are interested in people’s growth, promoting certification and training, and advancement opportunities. Some even have friendly internal competitions or ‘skill-belt’ levels so that each person can track their progress. 


In Closing


I hope you have found my perspective helpful to you.  We don’t often consider the human aspect when we think of data or companies in general.  Working with people at these companies has helped me be a better listener and makes me want to continue to grow/stretch and become a better CSM.  I want to continue to have an impact on companies no matter what size and keep the perspective that we are all people.