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Excellence Awards 2017: Tim Chandler & Amy Jorde - Best Use of Alteryx Server

Author: Tim Chandler (@TimChandler) - Principal Business Data Architect  

Team Members: Amy Jorde, Ambika Suresh, Praneesha Gaddam

Company: Marketo

Business Partner: Grazitti, Rahul Sachdeva (@rahuls)

 

Awards Category: Best Use of Alteryx Server for Analytics Deployment & From Zero to Hero

 

This story is about going from nothing to a corporate wide data pipeline and on-demand data delivery in less than 12 months. During the deployments this grew from 1 to 5 people that control the data of the company. The business impact is in almost all departments powering our Dashboards.

 

Marketo has been a customer of Alteryx since 2015, but it wasn’t until January 2016 that we truly started to use Alteryx throughout the company. In 2016, Alteryx became a mission critical solution that changes the way we work across the company. Organizations include Customer Success, Sales, Partner Programs, Finance, Marketing, Legal, Accounting, and Professional Services.

 

Describe the problem you needed to solve

Deliver company wide trusted data to enable better business decisions. Eliminate or reduce the many manual processes across the company that take too long to accomplish and are prone to errors. 

 

Describe the working solution

This solution is described in three parts.

1. Integration and Automation
2. Business Enablement
3. Scaling and Accelerating Business Intelligence Adoption

 

1. Integrations and Automation

In early 2016, Marketo launched Mavericks, our company data pipeline. A 100% cloud based solution, Mavericks pulls data from many sources, enriches the data using business rules and then published the data where it’s needed. Every week our production system has over 80 scheduled workflows and 30 gallery applications delivering the information that organizations rely on. Marketo uses off-the-shelf and custom API connections to integrate data the business needs.

 

Integrations include:

  • Marketo
  • Salesforce.com
  • Tableau
  • Intacct
  • Coupa
  • Workday
  • Oanda
  • Jobvite
  • Hire Bridge
  • Hire Select
  • Xactly
  • Box
  • Jira
  • Slack
  • Clarizen
  • AWS (S3 and Redshift)
  • High Radius
  • Host Analytics
  • Allocadia
  • Silicon Valley Bank
  • Smartsheets

 

Company Data PipelineMarketo_company data pipeline.png

 

Business Continuity
Workflows are mission critical to our business so we have developed a production process that enables us to identify issues before the business. Workflows are monitored by Tableau performance monitoring dashboards. These dashboards show trend of workflow behavior and highlight issues. We also have integrated Slack to both alert us to issues and allow the business to see when data is refreshed and more.

 

Bidirectional Data Integration
Marketo originally used Alteryx to publish information to our BI environment Tableau, however starting in early 2016 we went further with bidirectional system updates. With each implementation we moved away from manual to automated processes.

 

Here are some same use-cases we have completed in the last year.

  • We have a scalable methodology for obtaining Salesforce.com data, storing in AWS Redshift, publishing to Tableau, and using for other workflows without overwhelming our Salesforce.com instance with API requests.
  • Currency exchange rates from OANDA are fully integrated into Salesforce.com using methodology which matches the exchange rates calculated by our ERP (Intacct).
  • We prevent accounts payable check fraud with a workflow which automatically triggers a positive pay file run in our Intacct with an Intacct partner tool from Wipfli and then sends the resulting file with authorized check numbers, payees, and amount paid directly to the bank. The entire process is monitored by our AP team in Slack.
  • Intacct invoices and invoicing schedules get processed and displayed in a Tableau dashboard for deferred revenue forecasting, a dashboard which ends up more accurate than the forecasting report found directly inside Intacct!
  • Many more!


2. Business Enablement

Using Alteryx Gallery, we provide on-demand solutions to our business partners freeing them from time consuming manual processes.

 

With the use of Marketo Alteryx Gallery, users can update data previously only able to be updated via tedious manual updates or via API only. Example workflows which have been added into our company’s gallery allow users perform the following types of tasks:

  • Attach expense receipt PDFs for billable expenses to the related customer invoices. No more edit, attach, save on automatically created expense invoices - just click a button in the gallery and done!
  • Automatically write off small balances owed by customers on invoice transactions which meet certain fixed criteria.
  • Reactivate employee records in our ERP and expense tool for final expense report processing. A related scheduled workflow then deactivates the employee after the expense report has been reimbursed to that employee. No more Jira tickets to reactivate employees and we maintain clean data!
  • A collection of gallery applications allows insights into monthly professional services revenue being posted to ensure that data is accurate and will post correctly into our general ledger.
  • Excel Replacement! Upload CSV files and export with blended and processed data by combining uploaded file with other system data and returning complete file or analysis. One of our gallery apps used in this manner saves over 40 hours per month of processing time!
  • Process integrations on demand if user needs to have up to date data in another system and cannot wait until the scheduled timing. Data on your schedule.

 

3. Scaling and Accelerating Business Intelligence Adoption

Using Alteryx to prepare information for our BI environment has benefited us in both scaling and accelerating our adoption. Here’s how:

 

Scaling
Traditionally much of the BI data manipulation happens within the BI presentation layer. This includes blending data sources, creating calculated fields and complex level of detail solutions. We take a different approach. We use Alteryx to do the data prep including detailed data modeling. This approach minimizes the load on our BI Server allowing us to have more concurrent users than is typically expected. The costs avoided for 2017 and beyond look substantial.

 

Accelerating Adoption
Driving adoption with the business happens faster when the data is in the right model and has common definitions across the company. 80% of the work is data prep and this is all done in Alteryx. Instead of training the Business to become Tableau experts, we choose to focus on driving adoption. This means that we do not spend time on calculated fields, blending data and LOD with the business. We focus on shifting from manual Excel solutions to more insightful visual dashboards. Several people in the business were able to publish dashboards that changed the way people worked within days. Reconciliation of data has dramatically been reduced. For example Marketo use a single Opportunity data source for all dashboards.

 

Marketo’s Data Pipeline for Opportunity DataMarketo_data pipeline for opportunity data.png

 

Workflow description

Data is pulled from five Salesforce.com tables and blended together in grey boxes. Yellow boxes blend names, adjust times and create calculated fields. Green boxes convert currencies to USD. From the orange to the blue box data is blended with excel spreadsheets owned and updated by the business. The blue box adds a timestamp and the final yellow boxes publish to Tableau.

 

Summary

The combination of powering our company's data pipeline, Mavericks, and providing on demand services with Gallery has allowed us to take control of our business’s data. It’s an awesome tool where the only limits are our time and creativity.

 

Our business partners are incredibly happy with the work we’ve done on our Alteryx server over the last year. Look for more results from us in 2017!

 

Describe the benefits you have achieved

The impacts of Alteryx are wide. Here are some of the highlights.

  1. Time saved as a result of automated integration and data blending using Alteryx is over 250 hours each month, conservatively. This is based on feeback from two departments that state have detailed their timesaving. With each new solutions we save more and more business process time.
  2. Cost avoidance comes in the way of being able to scale Tableau by Alteryx doing the data processing.
  3. Data Quality. Data is trusted across the company allowing people to focus on the busuness rather than ratifying numbers.  
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Status changed to: Inspire 2017 Las Vegas Award Entry