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Engine Works Blog

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

I was flipping through channels on the TV the other night, and stopped on an old Eddie Murphy movie - Beverly Hills Cop.  As I was laughing about the "banana in the tailpipe", it got me thinking about other funny lines in Eddie Murphy movies.  I quickly hit on The Golden Child and "I want some chips".  This had me reminiscing about another grocery store visit, where I wanted some chips of my own.  (As an aside, I felt the need to provide the 'thought process' as my wife - yes, the same one from the first grocery store story - sometimes looks at me with astonishment on how my mind gets to certain topics - don't judge me, just go with it).

 

On this particular trip, I witnessed a chip truck at the door, and the "chip guy" talking with the store manager.  Here's the gist of that conversation.

 

chips-potatoes-1418192_1920.jpg

 

Chip Guy:  I've got a great new chip for your customers to try.

Store Manager:  OK, I'll create a space on an end-cap for you to load it up.

CG:  Awesome - you won't be disappointed.

SM:  We'll see how it sells and evaluate in 2 weeks.

 

Intrigued by this conversation, but not to the extent that I was going to visit daily to check on the sales, I asked for a moment of the store manager's time.

 

 

Me:  What's gonna happen in 2 weeks?

SM:  If the chip sells, we'll stock it, if not, we'll scrap it.

Me:  Can you walk me through the process on 'stock vs. scrap'?

SM:  The chip guy comes a few times a week, parks his truck out front, and brings a hand-truck through the front door to load the end cap - 'stock' - at least temporarily.chips-843993_1920.jpg

Me:  Temporarily?

SM:  I'm going to go back to the office and start a conversation with the distributor, because, if it sells, I don't want the truck always at my front door.  I'll have the distributor bring it, and my stock guys will load the shelf by bringing the chips through the big silver doors in the back.

Me:  I know all about those big silver doors ... (see previous grocery store blog for context)

SM:  (Ignoring the silver door comment), I'll set up true shelf space for it on a more permanent basis and it will flow through a normal process - again, if it sells.

Me:  What if it doesn't 'sell'?

SM:  I scrap the end-cap, unwind the conversations with the distributor since nothing's really happened but talk, and tell the chip guy to stop bringing it in the front door.  My customers don't really care if my stock guys put stuff on the shelf, or if the chip guy does it.  My customers only care that the right stuff is on the shelves when they need it.

Me:  Interesting, thanks for the insight!

 

I got my chips, and a few other things that weren't on the shopping list, and went on my way.

 

I know ... nice story, but what's that got to do with Data Science?

 

EVERYTHING !!!

 

You see, the Data Scientist is the 'chip guy'.

The IT Data Manager is the 'store manager'.

 

Here's what happens in the business world.


chips-476359_1920.jpg

Data Scientist:  I've got the really cool new data source that I just *know* will provide immeasurable insight!

IT Data Manager:  Great - it will take us 6 weeks to 6 months to set up the process to ingest it properly so you can use it.

DS:  Uh ...

IT:  That's the process - you should've brought this to me last quarter.

DS:  But it's NEW!  I didn't know about it last quarter!  I'll miss the opportunity!

IT:  Too bad ... so sad.

 

 

What a killjoy!  What if the conversation could go like this?

 

DS:  I've got the really cool new data source that I just *know* will provide immeasurable insight!

IT:  Awesome, I'll create a space for you so you can load it into the enterprise data environment and explore it in context with other corporate data.

DS:  Really?  Great!  That'll be awesome - uh, the data refreshes every couple of days.  Is that a problem?

IT:  No - you just load the new data ... but ...

DS:  But?chips-643_1920.jpg

IT:  I need to know the source of the data.  I'll start the process with the rest of the data team to properly ingest this data into the ecosystem.

DS:  You mean I won't have to do it?

IT:  You will for a short time, but your core competency is in analyzing data and gleaning insights, not moving data into and around the organization - that's what we do.

DS:  I *need* to know when the update happens.  The only way I can do that is if I'm in *control* of the load process.

IT:  I'm trusting you to glean the insights.  You need to trust me to insure data consistency and 'freshness'.  At the end of the day, you, Mr. Data Scientist, don't need to be part of the operational process in loading data into the ecosystem.  And you shouldn't care whether the data comes in 'the front door - through you', or 'through the back door - through us'.  You just need to care that the 'freshest data' is 'on the shelf', ready for use!

DS:  You're right.  I'll start analyzing - and if I can't find anything, we'll just scrap it, but, WHEN I DO FIND SOMETHING, then I'll keep loading it, for business continuity, while you work to take over that operational process.

 

Wow.  You're probably thinking 'how can we have the second conversation and not the first'?

 

I've been advocating a new position in the IT organization.  The Analytic DBA.  The Analytic DBA is the Store Manager - the IT Person.  A person with 'one foot' in business, 'one foot' in IT.  Provisioning space to allow data scientists to explore new data, but providing oversight for compliance, risk, and auditability.  A person that can 'start' the process of effective modeling of data elements uncovered in the data scientist's exploration.  A person that can put 'process' into place for data acquisition, so the data scientist doesn't have to be part of the long-term, operational process to acquire data.

 

I 'saw' this just because I wanted some chips.

 

What have you learned from the grocery store?  Share with me!

Gary Spakes
Director | Solutions Architecture

Gary focuses on both the technical aspects and business implications involving the Alteryx architecture. Gary engages strategically with customers world-wide on a variety of technology topics including but not limited to Data Management, Analytical Process Lifecycle, Insight Delivery, and underlying technologies. Gary’s goal is to help organizations leverage technology to turn data into information, information into insight, and make “better” decisions. An 18 year IT veteran prior to going to “the dark side” in Sales and Marketing, Gary has implemented and led operational teams for ERP systems, been a DBA and DBA manager, and developed investment management and mutual fund accounting software during stints with Price Waterhouse, Chase Manhattan Bank (now JP Morgan Chase), Acxiom Corporation, and SAS. Spakes holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Tampa with majors in Mathematics and Management Information Systems. He resides in North Carolina.

Gary focuses on both the technical aspects and business implications involving the Alteryx architecture. Gary engages strategically with customers world-wide on a variety of technology topics including but not limited to Data Management, Analytical Process Lifecycle, Insight Delivery, and underlying technologies. Gary’s goal is to help organizations leverage technology to turn data into information, information into insight, and make “better” decisions. An 18 year IT veteran prior to going to “the dark side” in Sales and Marketing, Gary has implemented and led operational teams for ERP systems, been a DBA and DBA manager, and developed investment management and mutual fund accounting software during stints with Price Waterhouse, Chase Manhattan Bank (now JP Morgan Chase), Acxiom Corporation, and SAS. Spakes holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Tampa with majors in Mathematics and Management Information Systems. He resides in North Carolina.

Comments
Bolide

I Star'd this because there are many who should read it...

 

That said I am saddened that this is even a point to make because to me common sense would have dictated this kind of interaction and cooperation.  But barriers due to politics and control issues and or bureaucratic infrastructures and policies of larger companies do often preclude or obstruct such common sense approaches.

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