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Engine Works Blog

Under the hood of Alteryx: tips, tricks and how-to's.
Sr. Community Content Manager
Sr. Community Content Manager

Banner_InnovationDays.png


We've mentioned Innovation Days in passing several times on Community. I thought it was time we explained what it's really all about.

 

InnoDays_Q1_2018.pngMichael Chadwick and Criston Schellenger work on a top secret Innovation Days project that maybe they'll tell you about some day.

Alteryx gives its associates an opportunity to work on side projects once a quarter. I think of Innovation Days as an opportunity to work on something you're passionate about and that your boss didn't assign to you. According to the event's current organizers:

 

Your project should be related to Alteryx in some way. And that’s it. It doesn’t have to be complex, tech-based, or public facing.

Format

 

The format has changed over the years. In its first incarnation back in 2014 (back when our dev HQ was in Boulder) it was called FedEx day. From my email archives...

 

What is a FedEx Day?

A FedEx Day is a 24-hour event in which employees deliver innovation to the company they work for. It is called FedEx Day, because you have to deliver overnight, like the parcel delivery company. A FedEx Day is a fixed time-box in which people are not disturbed for regular work. Within this time box, employees have total autonomy over the project they are enthusiastic about. They decide for themselves what they will be working on, whom they are going to work with, and how they are going to do it

Why?

Many employees have great ideas for improving their work and the products of the company. Traditional management often does not provide the autonomy for employees to implement these ideas. Business is often hectic and the pressure on delivery is always there. However, these employees often have the best innovative ideas, since they are the ones closest to the work!

That was fun but not everyone was into staying up all night, and we just wanted more time to deliver. At some point the event was renamed to Innovation Days, plural, and currently lasts 2 days, devoting a third day to presentations to show off what was accomplished and crucially so that the product management team gets a chance to see if anything is ready to incorporate into the product.

 

Typically a few days before the event starts, people start chattering on Slack, pitching ideas, forming teams...

 

Slack.PNGSlack chatter.

After the event participants and observers get to vote on their favorite projects.

 

The First Innovation Days

 

That very first event way back in October 2014 produced compelling projects from some true Alteryx legends that probably cemented Innovation Days as the lasting tradition that it's become.

 

@SteveA worked on integrating Python into Alteryx. Fast forward a few years, and we get Steve himself presenting the Python SDK in London.

 

SteveInLondon.jpgStephen Ahlgren is serious about bringing Python to Alteryx.

@RobertB started Visual Diff, which also eventually made it into the product.

 

VisualDiff.pngVisual Diff: see how 2 versions of a workflow differ. A feature born out of the first Innovation Days.

@JPoz created the Alteryx Wikipedia page. That's right - prior to this first FedEx day, Alteryx did not have a Wikipedia entry.

This might be my favorite Inno Days project of all time because it shows you don't need hardcore coding skills to come up with an impactful project.

 

AlteryxWikipedia.pngThe original Alteryx Wikipedia entry timestamps the first Innovation Days.

@MelissaD created step-by-step tutorials in Alteryx with explanatory text and troubleshooting for a couple of Predictive tools.

This helped inspire the design of our starter kits.

starterKit1.gifMelissa Dixon's project inspired the interactivity in our Starter Kits.

More Recent Projects

 

One particularly notable project was presented by @DrDan and @JPKa. In February 2017 they built a macro that demonstrated how Alteryx Designer and the Yhat ScienceOps model deployment and management platform could play nicely together. The rest is history.

 

Yhat.gifArchival footage of Dr. Dan deploying Alteryx models to a ScienceOps server.

Here's one that had a great project name: Love Connection. @RoyL saw a problem: if two tools are far away from each other on the canvas, it can be difficult to connect them. His solution was released recently in version 11.7. You can find mention of it in the release notes as View Possible Connections, although the Innovation Days name was catchier.

 

LoveConnection.jpgImage credit: http://logos.wikia.com/wiki/Love_Connection

This past Wednesday, @Ozzie worked on enhancing the Download tool for his project. An Inno Days first, he live streamed his progress via Twitch.

 

ozzie.gifOzzie codes.


Alteryx associates: help me out. What are your favorite past projects that I haven't mentioned? Let everyone know in the comments.

 

Readers: be on the lookout for upcoming posts that go into more depth on individual Innovation Days projects.

Neil Ryan
Sr Program Manager, Community Content

Neil Ryan is the Sr Program Manager, Community Content, responsible for the content in the Alteryx Community. He held previous roles at Alteryx including Advanced Analytics Product Manager and Content Engineer, and had prior gigs doing fraud detection analytics consulting and creating actuarial pricing models. Neil's industry experience and technical skills are wide ranging and well suited to drive compelling content tailored for Community members to rank up in their careers.

Neil Ryan is the Sr Program Manager, Community Content, responsible for the content in the Alteryx Community. He held previous roles at Alteryx including Advanced Analytics Product Manager and Content Engineer, and had prior gigs doing fraud detection analytics consulting and creating actuarial pricing models. Neil's industry experience and technical skills are wide ranging and well suited to drive compelling content tailored for Community members to rank up in their careers.

Comments
Alteryx
Alteryx

The "Add to New Container" feature was brought up in several Alteryx Product Ideas posts, such as this thread:
https://community.alteryx.com/t5/Alteryx-Product-Ideas/Draw-a-box-over-tools-and-add-them-to-a-conta...

 

That feature and other enhancements to Tool Container were added over the course of several Innovation Days seasons by various contributors.

 

That goes to show that even if an idea seems small and not on the official roadmap, it can't hurt to post it on the Community! Smiley Happy

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