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When comparing different analytic tools, many make the mistake of simply looking at a checklist of capabilities. Can I perform data manipulation? How easy is it to bring in new data? Is there an ability to perform geospatial analysis? And while these questions are fair, they likely do not fully separate the top choices. The real differentiators tend to be in the ease of use, the speed and accuracy of completing a task. With this in mind, we created a simple set of challenges to compare the spreadsheet to Alteryx in a real-world assignment. The challenge is explained below, but you can skip ahead and watch the head-to-head competition here.
The Assignment: Transparency on US Government Stimulus Package
The US Government recently announced a $2 Trillion CARES Act relief package to aid both individuals and businesses in response to Covid-19. A typical question that might be asked would be: Where is the money is going? With this in mind, we took one aspect of this program – the money being sent to individuals in the form of cash payments – and created a series of challenges to provide a real-world example of what it’s like performing analysis in a modern day analytic platform.
Challenge #1: Understand funding for families with children
The CARES act provides added funding for each child within a family. In this analysis we will determine which geographies (at a state level) will receive the largest and smallest funding amounts per capita.
Upcoming Challenge(s): Understand full funding under the CARES Act for each household
A slightly more challenging set of analysis where the income levels by household must be understood along with the results of the first analysis and then combined to get a total amount for each household. Can this be done geospatially at the county level, a more granular level of detail than by state?
And can we create a full report showing the differences across the country that can be automatically sent out to a distribution list or put on a schedule to update regularly? Would you want to see how to do this? If yes, let us know in the comments and we'll work on a follow-up analysis!
The set of challenges here are representative of tasks performed every day around the world by knowledge workers. My experience is that Alteryx is typically 10-100 times faster than the spreadsheet, with many tasks just not being possible at all in the spreadsheet. Here, we have recorded the experience to allow you to see experts in both technologies going head-to-head. Before you watch the video, try searching for "largest spreadsheet blunders" to view how easy it can be to make a mistake. Then ask yourself if you are confident in the answers that each process delivered. Ask yourself:
Are you confident in the source of the data?
Could you easily recreate the analysis or run it again on a schedule?
Could you send it to someone else and have them easily understand what you have done?
If you re-opened the analysis 6 months later, could you figure out what had been done and where the data came from?
Watch round 1 above, and let us know if you'd like to see some more challenging items!