Alter.Nation

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TheOC
14 - Magnetar

As many of you know, I'm a massive nerd and love everything Alteryx. I feel, as an Alteryx geek, I've been spoilt this year – with the opportunity to attend Alteryx Inspire in Denver (a long way from my hometown), the new Designer Platform announcements, and now being asked to share my thoughts around the Alter.Next event by @shannonem.  

 

 

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I will start this off by stating I'm not big-headed enough to call myself an ‘Oratorical Behemoth’ (I'm looking at you @mceleavey), so do bear with my writing style. However, I would love to take you through my perspective as an attendee of the Alter.Next event, as someone who uses Alteryx on a daily (and often nightly) basis. I will try my best to capture the parts of the event that excited me the most, but I implore you to attend the event yourself; there is far too much to get down into text.  

 

Alter.Next is a quarterly virtual summit that brings together celebrity guests, thought leaders, and customers to share how data analytics can translate into real-world insights. 

 

First, you know it is a magnificent event when we are first greeted by the one and only @JoshuaB. I have a theory it is impossible to dislike this man.

  

Okay, okay, let us get into the content then, shall we?  

 

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Session: Creating the Data-Driven Enterprise of Tomorrow  

 

We are lucky enough to be introduced to Trevor Schulze, CIO of Alteryx, and Boris Evelson, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research.  

 

Here we received many data-driven insights about the idea of data-driven insights – there is an inception meme in there somewhere. On a serious note, it was incredibly interesting to hear about how business reliance is based on a small percentage of decision-makers using business intelligence applications.  

 

The overall sentiment is that despite the collection and use of data-driven signals being increased, it is no longer enough, and signals now need to be part of “insights, decisions, driving action and creating tangible positive business outcomes all part of a business loop.” I think it’s a great point to make; just being able to say that you “use your data” is no longer a competitive (or efficient) edge. Boris details the way that organizations can be more data-centric as part of this section across all departments. It is worth a tune-in!  

 

Trevor also mentioned the Alteryx Maturity Assessment. For those of you who have not seen the maturity assessment before, it is effectively a way of benchmarking your organization against all other organizations in your field, allowing you to quickly understand the market and your individual position and areas to improve on.  

 

Session: Digital Transformation with Enterprise-Wide Analytics Automation at Inchcape  

 

Joshua then introduced us to Suganthi Shivkumar, VP of Asia at Alteryx, Ram Thilak, Chief Data Scientist & Global Head at Inchcape Digital, and Ian Monk, Product Manager at Inchcape Digital. Inchcape is really switched on around a digital transformation, and it was great to hear about their challenges and successes on their journey to a data-first mentality.  

 

Spoiler Alert: the main solution discussed is Alteryx (at least pretend to be surprised!) The backbone of this is that data analytics no longer requires a degree in mathematics and years of experience in a programming language. You can be up and running with complex queries within a week or two at the Alteryx Academy. Ian further explains his journey from “Excel Analytics”—pardon the oxymoron—to Alteryx and shared tips on shifting an organization to a future-ready position.   

 

Session: Automated Analytics Includes Data Engineering in the Cloud  

 

We are then passed on to Jay Henderson, SVP Product Management at Alteryx, and Adam Wilson, GM and SVP Product & Engineering at Trifacta. I must be honest, I listened to this section the first time and totally forgot I was meant to be blogging, the idea of Alteryx in the Cloud is just so captivating. You really need to hear this for yourself.   

 

It was interesting to hear about Trifacta’s business, how it is currently being implemented, and the resemblance to Alteryx Designer. I can see how this acquisition is going to skyrocket the world of Alteryx through the cloud and beyond. The platform is shaping up to be a limitless solution to anything data and aims to fully enable all businesses. One thing that is encouraging about Trifacta is that it should be remarkably familiar to Alteryx users, filling the same gaps in the data journey in a centralized manner. Adam mentions that large enterprises report using, on average, 364 different enterprise applications—scary stuff! This makes having a platform that can do all functionality across data, with no limit on data size or source, increasingly important.  

 

Adam and Jay take us through the entire process of implementation of the Alteryx Analytics Automation Platform within an organization automating manual processes and discussing different statistics around data usage in organizations.  

 

I could write a whole blog on this section of Alter.Next—Jay and Adam discuss in detail how all elements (Designer Cloud Powered by Trifacta, Designer Desktop, Server, Machine Learning, Auto Insights) can be implemented as building blocks on the journey towards data analytics. The look and feel of the Alteryx Analytics Automation Platform give me a great feeling of job security—this is going to take over the world. I seriously urge you to check this out, early adopters of innovation have a head start over the competition, and you will leave the event wanting access to these platforms.  

 

The Next Decade of Analytics, the Data Business, and the World   

 

We are joined by Tiffany Apczynski, VP of Corporate Social Responsibility at Alteryx, and Dr. Michio Kaku (Yes, THE Michio Kaku), theoretical Physicist/Futurist and best-selling author. Straight out of the gate, I’m going to say I'm a huge fan of Dr. Michio Kaku, and I will try to remain impartial … the guy made a particle accelerator as a high-school science fair project, for crying out loud. He is also down-to-earth and funny, as I found from his WIRED Tech Support video early last year. He is worth tuning in for! Okay, I will remain impartial from now on …  

 

Tiffany and Michio begin by talking about the history and importance of data in industry, discussing how data is effectively a “gold mine of nuggets waiting to be picked up, and that’s where analytics comes in.”  It is great to hear this perspective from Michio, as it was expressed in the previous sections of the event that businesses have limited use of data. With the ease of access to computing power, and easy-to-use analytics with Alteryx, we all now have that diamond pickaxe—let’s access that gold!  

 

It is also refreshing to hear Michio chat about different uses of data, not just for business matters. It is easy to see data through a business lens and strictly think about how it relates to your organization, but the conversation developed towards analytics around Covid-19 and global warming and how increased data points across the world can start to be used to save lives and the planet.  

 

It was super interesting to hear the conversation develop into the future of analytics and how data will lead a journey into a new revolution, with AI and machine learning creating accessible value to all. He discussed a few exciting examples, including contact lenses which will translate speech as we talk to different people across the world, all to “increase efficiency, remove speedbumps, and ease friction.” I guess it's not all sharks with “freaking lasers...”  

 

It really was a fantastic, insightful session, and all very relatable to the current data problems and solutions we have. If you are interested in more of Dr. Michio Kaku’s story, he also appeared on the Alter Everything podcast here. It is worth a listen for sure! 

 

Session: Bringing the Future of Fraud Detection to Life with KBBS 

 

We were then introduced to Heidi Badgery, Managing Director ANZ at Alteryx, and Simon Dudley, Managing Consultant at KBBS. They chat about the insurance industry – which has a massive utilization of data analytics. Simon explains that KBBS are specialists in fraud detection and management in the insurance industry, aiming to solve three problems: automation, better quality outcomes, and using technology to create analytics for every step of their process.   

 

Simon did a fantastic job relating some of his business problems to what Alteryx can solve. The idea of automation and advanced analytics is difficult but needs an easy-to-use shareable platform to perform these tasks. There was also a need for deep dives into root cause analysis, which was previously an exceedingly challenging task, especially when human narrative and vested ideas come into play. The solution to this is Alteryx Auto Insights, which allows them to analyze segments of insurance claims and be able to respond to new claims as quickly as possible.  

 

One thing I particularly enjoyed about this segment of Alter.Next is the specificity towards insurance but relatability across all organizations. We are all trying to automate tedious manual processes and need an easy-to-use platform to do that, and we are all trying to generate insights from our data that do not just tell the story we think it does. I think it’s just especially interesting to hear it from an insurance industry perspective, as they have been early adopters of using data to optimize processes and prices, so they have already experienced many of the challenges faced with moving into the future around governance and usage.  

 

Session: Unleashing & Automating Data Trapped in ERPs 

 

Finally, we were introduced to Jack Norris, SVP of Strategic Partnerships at Alteryx, and Chris Karalis, Senior Manager/Tax Ignition at KPMG. The focus of this segment is around leveraging data contained in ERP systems, which I know first-hand to be a particularly challenging but rewarding process—especially getting direct access from IT.  

 

Jack and Chris spoke about the challenges faced, even when you receive access to data around control, governance, and the idea of “accessing data that we shouldn’t be.” They also detailed how we can resolve these issues, while still respecting restrictions. I understand this to be a very relatable topic across the digital world, with many organizations having their data “trapped” in ERP. If this rings any bells, Chris details how they were able to further eliminate RPA (Robotic Process Automation) with Alteryx, which of course, opens doors to all sorts of data analytics—not just those locked within the box that they are used to.  

 

One of the notes that Jack and Chris hit on, and one that I always love to hear, is “what are the users now doing with all the extra free time they have after automating their processes.” I find it fascinating that this is a real problem with Alteryx – generating free time for users by automating tedious tasks. Chris detailed that they are now able to go back and review their existing processes in detail, enriching data, streamlining processes, and investigating source data. As a result, processes are becoming faster, more accurate, and much more developed. Love to hear it!  

 

Concluding Thoughts

 

I was sad to reach the end of Alter.Next, as it was an incredibly insightful event and I've learned a great deal by attending. The sentiment across all sections is the new world has “analytics is for all,” and this is especially true with Alteryx (coming from someone who picked up the platform at university). It no longer includes just Data Analysts, Data Scientists, or CDO/CFO/CEOs concerned with data. All levels of an organization can benefit from data awareness and accessibility. Alteryx has always been the solution to enable that, but the new platform is taking that to a whole new level. 

 

As mentioned, I've tried hard to pick the parts of the sections that I found most insightful—however, as always, with these things, my nerd perspective will be different from yours. I urge you to attend and comment below on what you found most insightful from the event!