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While Alteryx challenges people to alter everything, 84.51° use Alteryx to automate everything. 84.51° covers how their data scientists extended Alteryx past its traditional toolset to provide full-service automation through command-line calls to Tableau Server, SAS, Oracle, Python, R, Microsoft Office, and more. By harnessing the power of the Run Command Tool, they can utilize Alteryx for its strengths, like data wrangling, ordering screens, and scheduling, while using command-line utilities to supplement with heavy-lifting data queries and complex reporting.
Describe the business challenge or problem you needed to solve
We are a data science and customer experience company owned by the Kroger company. The Kroger Company is one of the largest retailers in the United States and includes: the Kroger banner itself, Ralph's, Fred Meyer in the Northwest, as well as things like Home Chef, and other services.
In terms of the data we deal with, our primary data source is customer loyalty cards. If you've ever had a Ralph's Card, a Kroger Card, etc., that's what we use. We augment with other sources obviously, but that amounts to 60 million US households, which is over half the country. That's 3 billion shopping baskets with 10 petabytes of total customer data. It's a huge asset, but it's also a huge liability, as it can take a long time to run anything. We struggled with wrangling data from 22 sources to create meaningful insights and relied on heavily manual processes, resulting in time wasted and lots of frustration for all parties involved. Using Alteryx and the Run Command functionality, we were provided a solution for automation which has driven huge time savings, as well as increased the quality and consistency of our deliverables.
Describe your working solution
Our first project with Alteryx was called the Category Strategy. This project was created to manage the customer data we had for different categories at Kroger. By category I mean cheese, soft drinks, anything like that. At the time, we were utilizing loyalty data to make decisions with a very extensive PowerPoint. We needed to fix that process because it was a huge mess.
We had a PowerPoint deck pulling data in from 22 different data sources. The Client leads, who manage our relationships with Kroger and other clients, were having to go find this data manually, filter through Excel docs down to the category they wanted, and copy and paste it directly into PowerPoint. This was required for every single category they worked with, multiple times throughout the year. It led to quite a large time waste with over 450 hours used in manual effort for this process. A whole suite of engineers, data scientists, and analysts were supporting this effort, but it was still a huge undertaking and very inefficient. Our objective for the project was to centralize the information.
The first workflow was built to pull the most recent data from all the various sources. There was Legacy systems dating back years, so our data was not consistent or standardized. Alteryx allowed us to connect these different data sources and create a single location where Clients could access their information. It was already quicker and better than what they were doing before, but it still wasn't quite good enough.
Having our data centralized, Alteryx enabled us to automate the entire solution and output a visualization rather than embedding them in Excel and having Clients manually retrieve them. This reduced the effort down to 10 minutes. While this is just a small piece of what the Run Command does for us, it saved over 500 hours of manual work each year for this one process.
We started building on our Alteryx knowledge to create more complex workflows, combining SQL, Python, and R scripts to utilize the Server power and standardize our processes. Our result was a complex, automated deliverable consisting of an Alteryx generated email with a Tableau visualization attached and embedded in the body of the email. Our goal was to ensure the most important insights were pulled out of the data and could be easily accessed, getting directly to the people making the decisions.
From there, we started to scale our automated solutions across the rest of the business. We leveraged the Run Command tool and batch macros to pass series of commands to external programs. Alteryx took existing processes down from days to minutes per run. We produced 190 successful workflows, creating a firestorm of new analytics through automation.
Describe the benefits you have achieved
Back in 2017, 84.51° estimated around 6300 hours saved in a year across our 15 projects with Alteryx. That was with eight to ten users and we won the Best Value-Driven with Alteryx Award at Inspire. Since then, we have 86 such projects, and for time savings we didn't recalculate because that's a lot of people to track down and get time saving estimates, but you can imagine the scale and value we're seeing just from using these commands. Run Command is one of the many capabilities Alteryx has to enable your organization to achieve time-savings, cost reduction, and higher quality results for any organization.
The entire PowerPoint presentation can be found here.