Alter Everything

A podcast about data science and analytics culture.
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Alteryx Alumni (Retired)

Mark Frisch and Tony Moses join us for a discussion about enablement in the analytics world, the coolest workflows they've ever seen, and why the Diamondbacks are way better than the Dodgers.















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Episode Transcription

BRIAN: 00:06 

[music] Welcome to Alter Everything. A podcast about data and analytics culture. I'm Brian Oblinger, and I'll be your host. On today's episode, we're joined by Mark Frisch and Tony Moses to talk about enablement in the analytics world. The coolest workflows they've ever seen. And why the Diamondbacks are way better than the Dodgers. Let's get into it. [music] Mark, Tony, welcome to the show. 

TONY: 00:29 

Thanks, Brian. It's a pleasure to be on this show here this morning. Alter Everything podcast. 

MARK: 00:34 

It's an honor and a privilege. Thank you for inviting me. 

BRIAN: 00:37 

Yeah. Absolutely. So as always, let's go ahead and start with some introductions. I think we've gotten a lot of great feedback from our audience along the way here about this particular section of the show. People like hearing what are the backgrounds, where are people coming from. We've seen quite a bit of diversity, obviously, on the show so far. So Mark, let's start with you. How did you get into analytics? What's your background look like? 

MARK: 01:05 

Well, my background just started out in financial. I was working in banks and got recruited to come to a little credit company TRW when they were rebuilding a credit database. And from there I went into their marketing services department. And since then, I've now expanded with really the lift from Alteryx to starting my own company and that's Marquee Crew. So when you see Marquee Crew in the Community, that's me and my company. 

BRIAN: 01:39 

I don't think there's any way that people could miss you on the Community. I think they're everywhere [laughter]. 

MARK: 01:44 

Well, there's Ben Moss and LordNeilLord that are really taking off now. But for me, for Marquee Crew, where I came from a financial background and marketing services background, in the past couple of years, because of Community and my experience there, I've been able to grow my company and do work across industries. So I work in analytics, CPG, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, marketing service providers, media, entertainment, pharma, and biotech. In the public sector, retail, technology, transport and logistics, travel and hospitality, and basically, I haven't learned how to say no yet to my clients. 

BRIAN: 02:34 

Nice. Tony, how about you? 

TONY: 02:37 

Yeah. Well, I guess my background with analytics really started when I was in school. The University of Pennsylvania, shout-out to the Quakers right now, but yeah. I started there. Didn't know what I wanted to major in and ended up in sociology, of all majors. Which my parents were happy about. They saw a lot of utility coming out of that. But I did take some stats courses. Ended up in a company straight out of college that really produced. J.D. Power and Associates survey results. So you know those car surveys, those awards. Did that. This is how I tie a lot of my background to the people I work with at Alteryx is that I put together a lot of different, I'll call them sheet warehouses in Excel, or I put together a lot of Access databases. So I was a data muncher for a little over two years. Tried to do something different, to go into financial services, commercial real estate. Failed miserably at both, which was a good thing, I think, for my path. And then ended up at Alteryx as a customer support engineer and really was able to just take it off from there. I really enjoy the platform. And it's been a blessing to be at Alteryx so far. 

BRIAN: 03:49 

And you're bearing a little bit of the lead here too, Tony. I think there was some baseball in there somewhere. 

TONY: 03:56 

Baseball. So I guess I should say, straight out of college, I did graduate in 2009. Which as you all know, was a great year for anyone entering the workforce. So as I was bussing tables with my degree, I went around and tried out for a few baseball teams. Ended up making the Dodgers minor league organization and played a year of rookie ball there. Again, back to failing miserably, so my financial services and my commercial real estate gig. I didn't do too well in baseball. I learned there's a lot better players out there. No matter where you are there's always someone working just as hard or harder. And maybe has the skill set to really take over and leap you. So that was a good learning experience for sure. 

BRIAN: 04:38 

Yeah. Yeah. And judging by the current NOS standings, it appears the D-backs are definitely outworking the Dodgers and just have better players. So we'll see how that goes. 

TONY: 04:46 

It's great when people talk about baseball in April [laughter]. There's only like 142 games left, so. 

BRIAN: 04:53 

This thing's almost over, Tony. I don't know what you're talking about. They got this thing wrapped up. 

TONY: 04:57 


BRIAN: 05:00 

In both of your backgrounds, you've done a wide range of things. We just heard you both kind of explain that. But what I'd like to hone in on or at least start with is this concept of enabling people in analytics. And sort of as a side to that, there's this real sort of conversation that we're hearing a lot of in terms of, do you enable people or do you do the work for them, right? And I think that it's kind of an interesting one. And the answer's probably somewhere in the middle. But I'd love to hear kind of, first of all, your thoughts on what that looks like? What does enablement mean to you? How have you gone about it? And then maybe some of your philosophy of where do you fall on the enable verse do spectrum? So Mark, let's start with you on that one. 

MARK: 05:46 

Well, thank you. On the spectrum, I probably stand a little bit to the left of enabling just slightly. But had the discussion with Chris Love in Community about the boundary between doing someone's work and helping them learn. Well, Joe Lipski had said that example workflows have no harm in supplying them, but it's best to learn Alteryx by doing. I'm part of that camp. And so in helping people and feeding people's failures or fear of failure by showing them that it's okay to fail, here's an approach that might work for you. I've often been told that didn't work, but can you help me do this better? The fear of failure, if we show people that it's okay to try things, and with Alteryx you will go and try option one, option two, option three, and that's okay. 

MARK: 06:51 

So in the enabling versus doing I like to get in and help people. But more so I like to see people evolve from that. And so we'll see people like Deborah Diesel, who's asking questions and us helping her out. And now I see her doing the same thing and paying it forward. So if we're going to try to scale the Community and get up to 100,000 solutions there for people, I think that we're going to see a mixture of both. And I think it was you, Bryan, that was helpful in setting us forward for creating knowledge-base articles. So that once we have a critical mass of knowledge out there in Community that we'll be able to go and see more people learning from the Community without necessarily asking for help. 

BRIAN: 07:48 

Yeah. And Tony, I know that you have a background here at Alteryx, anyway, of customer support. You've done solutions consulting. Now you're doing a little bit of account management. I mean, where do you see yourself fitting on the spectrum? Because those are kind of three distinct and separate disciplines. But they also have some overlap. So where does enable versus do fall in those types of roles that you've sort of experienced? 

TONY: 08:16 

Yeah. And you know, it's a really interesting question. It's something we always talk about here internally on our technical side. How do we best support our clients? And we really fall more on the enablement. We want to teach someone to fish rather than give them the fish themselves. And really the way we do that is through a number of different avenues. Whether that's through the Community site, onsite trainings, or working sessions. During these sessions, you really want to teach people how to use the tool. And really, it comes back down to, who are our clients? Are they naturally curious people, they want to go ahead and learn the tool on their own? Or maybe they need something a little bit more structured. 

TONY: 08:56 

So I think when you talk about the enablement versus the doing thing, like I was saying, always try to enable first. But there are certain circumstances, in customer support, maybe the server goes down. You're going to have to hop on, you're going to have to troubleshoot it yourself and maybe provide them a result. Whereas if they're asking about how to design something in a workflow, you really want to push them to the right tools. Give them some material that they can learn from. And they'll acquire a different skill moving forward. So it just really comes down to the question at hand and then what the type of persona is that you're really working with. 

BRIAN: 09:29 

Yeah. And I guess sort of along those lines, what happens when you get someone that really wants you to do the work for them? How do you sort of steer them in the correct direction and sort of bridge that divide? And sort of help them understand why the enablement path is better than the, I'm going to do it for you path? I think there's definitely this feeling that the, hey, do it for me, is easier and faster and better and then I can move onto other things, but. I think the three of us on this call, we clearly know that the enablement is the real thing to do. But how do you convince other people of that? What does that process look like? 

MARK: 10:13 

At times, I'll say, "Let me google that for you." And I will present hyperlinks to people about other articles and show them that there are articles that would help them inside the Community or within the Alteryx help pages themselves. I've sometimes ignored the questions or the posts and then congratulate the person for getting the work done themselves. 

TONY: 10:46 

Yeah. And just to piggyback that, from our site internally, really just from my training and enablement myself, when I started, I had a great trainer, Carlos Avila, who works still here at Alteryx. And one of his best training avenues for me was he would come over and go, "Hey, muchacho, did you hit F1?" And you know, if you're working at Alteryx, you know that F1 takes you directly to the help. So it's really being able to push that onto somebody and try and get them to take ownership of what they're doing. And like Mark says, sometimes you just have to naturally give them a URL blast or give them some articles that they can read up on. And really, I don't want to say put your foot down, but when it comes to providing services for somebody, project-based work, time availability for it can be difficult. 

TONY: 11:37 

And I'll say also the Community has really helped us push this a lot more. Reason being is that there are URLs and articles that you can help with. I know, Brian, we've been here a long time and you came on to really get the Community up and running to where it is now. Before, we didn't have anything like that. So you may have had to provide them some sample workflows or work with their data and their workflow themselves and go back and forth on troubleshooting rather than being able to give them some really knowledge-base material. 

BRIAN: 12:08 

Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. On the account management side, because I suspect strongly, obviously, Tony, you're doing that today. And Mark, in your business you have to do some amount of kind of account management, account maintenance, keeping people happy. What does that look like? Maybe talk about that process a little bit. 

MARK: 12:30 

Account management for me involves that enablement more so than in the Community. On the small business, I wouldn't be able to scale myself if the customers were reliant on me to get their work done. So in my business life, I'm very focused about enablement. The clients, when I first onboard, I show them Community. I spend a lot of time with them showing them how to learn in Community. How to get help. And let them know, if you need me, I'm there to help you. But it turns out that many of the organizations that I'm working with now are developing their own internal communities where they help themselves first and they reach out to me second. Community is something that they're using on a regular basis. 

TONY: 13:27 

Yeah. And for me, account management side, really, you start to work with a lot of different users across a lot of different teams and verticals. So the use cases that you come across of are very interesting, but really to get to that point where you're working with an end user on a specific use case, you have to find a champion at one of these organizations who really wants to take ownership of promoting Alteryx. Of showing people how this can make their lives a little bit easier when it comes to their day-to-day. And really, from there, it just takes off. It's not hard to show somebody an automated workflow of they're day-to-day data munching report. And they see the benefit from it instantly. So that's a really easy part. 

TONY: 14:10 

And then when it comes to enabling or doing, I don't do a whole lot of doing, I would say, on the account management side. Really, that's where our partners come in. So unlike Mark here, who we can come in for project-based time availability. And really, they can take ownership of that project moving forward. Whereas, we're really just the air traffic controller in the account. Where do these people need to go to find the right resources? How can we enable them best? How do we keep people happy? And you start to raise the water and the whole boat starts to float a little bit higher as that goes along because you're enabling a broader community who really now has the power to do something in Alteryx that they may have not had before. 

BRIAN: 14:51 

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And the last question I have on this particular thread is, we talk a lot about data and analytics culture. That's obviously the theme of this show. But also, what we're trying to do in general from a company perspective and from just an industry perspective right now. In thinking about, I'm just hearing you both sort of describe enablement and account management and those kinds of things and the way that you do it. I would love to hear from both of you, how do you view data and analytics culture? And what are your suggestions or tips maybe for anybody out there listening to this that-- How they can try to implement that either in their business or in someone else's business? 

MARK: 15:33 

If you're getting into the practice of self-service analytics and you've now taken ownership of the process using Alteryx, you're going to have the opportunity to talk through best practices with other people that are using Alteryx or know the data. And by thinking through the problem I think you learn more about how to better analyze the data and basically, you have what you know that you know and you know that you don't know, you realize so much more about the data as you're touching the data and exploring it, so. Being a data explorer I think is going to improve the process for you. 

TONY: 16:22 

And I'd say from my side, really, the culture of data and analytics, like I was saying before, really starts with some type of champion within the organization. One that really comes to mind, I worked a lot with last year, I was up there every two weeks up in Seattle with Alaska Air and Heather Harris. And she was a great champion for us. You talk about somebody that really takes ownership, finds the right meetings for you, provides a center of excellence to really be a part of, and change the data culture. You go from something that's a little bit antiquated with old technologies to moving something into the future and providing real value to the organization. And that starts with everyone. And to really get that, you need a leader who can take you there. 

BRIAN: 17:05 

Yeah. And speaking of champions, Houston Astros, hell of a job last year beating the Dodgers in the World Series there [laughter]. 

TONY: 17:12 

What happened to the Diamondbacks last year? Who swept them in the playoffs? 

BRIAN: 17:16 

We're editing that part out. 

TONY: 17:17 

Okay. All right. Well, I'm going to make an asterisk. I'm going to leave a note for sure on the Community page. [music] 

BRIAN: 17:25 

Okay. So moving on, one of the things that strikes me that would be great to talk to both of you about, you both have this long, tenured background in consulting and enablement and support. I think what we really need is to just have storytime here a little bit, right? So maybe tell us a couple of stories. Some of your favorite stories about analytics or companies you've worked with. You could even tell us some stories that are maybe some fails that are interesting. Protecting the innocent, obviously. So Mark, let's start with you. 

MARK: 17:56 

Well, thank you. I want to think that I'm on the success side of the failure, but one of the questions that had been asked from a manufacture is, "Are we sending products from East Coast to West Coast and vice versa from West Coast to East Coast that we're wasting our transportation dollars with?" And so we took a look at all the transportation records for the past several years. And we were able to identify truckloads that went from Pennsylvania to California. And then on those same highways, at the very same time, we saw a truckload coming back from California to Pennsylvania. So there were millions of dollars worth of potential budget that could be recouped if the trucks actually didn't start off and end and cross each other on the highway. 

MARK: 19:02 

It was really a visualization in tableau of the Alteryx data that brought this to life. And we were seeing trucks just basically cross the screen with the same content. On a personal level, I've seen people who've had data jobs in Excel where the people were actually suffering from carpal tunnel, having surgery. They were really suffering from the work that they were doing. And when I observed these people working they were actually editing content for placing into Amazon. And this manual process, I was able to create an Alteryx workflow that would replicate four hours' worth of work in 20 seconds. And so I'm using Alteryx to save companies money, but also I use Alteryx to save people's lives or health and really affect people in a very positive way. 

TONY: 20:14 

And Mark, I have a follow-up question for you on that. So they're flying by each other on the highways there and you discover this within the data that you found working with your user there. How do you propose or how do you go tell someone in sea level that you're sending trucks from let's say, Detroit to California and California back to Detroit, who signed off on this and then how do we fix this? What's that conversation really like? 

MARK: 20:42 

Well, it was interesting because it was that sea level person that asked the question of me to go and see, "Can you show me this? I think that it's happening." And based on that, he was able to go to the demand planners and to talk to the people who are managing the budget to let them know that this was happening and try to get answers from within their own organization. So it really wasn't a matter of coming in after the fact and bayoneting the wounded. They took it as a learning exercise and looked for ways of improving things within the organization. It was a very positive discussion. 

TONY: 21:24 

Yeah. That's awesome to hear too as well. Because coming from the other side of things maybe when you do have to take that bayonet in and talk to somebody about the policies and procedures that are in place. That's never an easy thing to do, right, because someone had put those in place and probably spent a lot of time thinking that up. And then all of a sudden the data tells you something a little different. So I'm sure you've been on both ends of the spectrum there. 

MARK: 21:49 

Yes. It makes sense when you're a cottage and then you develop into a factory, and when you take a look at the factory processes, sometimes you wonder why, why is it this way and let's do something to change it. 

BRIAN: 22:05 

Yeah. I think the thing you're both highlighting here a little bit is, if I could just interject, is that when we talk about this data and analytics culture, right, obviously there's data and there's software in there. But the culture part is kind of the important one. It's the people and it's the sort of philosophies. And I think the companies and the people that we're seeing be most successful with this stuff are the people that are curious. They're able to change their mind based on what the data's telling them. And they value the insights over maybe what was done in the past, right. I think we all know that the "that's the way we've always done it" is one of the worst phrases in human history, right. And I think most people know that. But I think the challenge is, how do you pivot from that? Are you going to pivot gracefully, quickly, slowly, not so gracefully, right? And the people that are able to kind of look at that and make the decision based on the facts are the ones that are getting the most out of this. 

TONY: 23:10 

Yeah. And if I can add onto that a couple of things I heard there. The first one I think coming from Mark was asking the question, "Why?" That's a big question in these organizations. Especially when you're working with data, "Why am I doing this? Where is it going? And are there improvements that we can make?" And that all comes back to the culture aspect of things. If you don't have people within your organization that are naturally curious and want to ask why and want to break things then you're not going to find anything really of value. You're just going to be going along that same path. And no one wants to do that. You want to find someone that's innovative. You want to find someone that does ask that question and can give you insights that maybe weren't there before. 

BRIAN: 23:56 

So what's the gnarliest workflow that each of you have ever seen? 

MARK: 24:01 

Wow. Just yesterday, one of my clients was showing me their work and said, "Mark, is there any way that you could improve this process?" And it wasn't very big, but it was certainly convoluted. It turns out, you were looking at data that was being summarized by region and being compared and summarized with country. And so you were really looking at the market share of the region or the percentage of the country. And I want to say that there were probably two dozen tools that they had where they were capitalizing data, formatting it, re-summarizing, and. So it took me a little while to understand what was going on in it, but it turned out to be maybe three or four tools that were actually necessary. So sometimes it's just the-- it's not the biggest workflow, but sometimes it's just understanding how somebody was thinking about the data and just being able to step in there and dig in and see the simplicity of what was possible. 

TONY: 25:20 

Yeah. I'd agree with Mark on that there. It's not really the size of the workflow that can make it gnarly. While I've seen workflows with probably hundreds of tools on there, if they're designed in the correct way, then they work and they work pretty efficiently. Really, there's a few tools in Alteryx, and this is going to get a little nerdy about the engine, but if you're using joins and sorts that's going to be really taxing. And you'll see a lot of people throwing join tools out there and performing cartesian joins. So many to many joins. And you'll see a gig of data turn into 80 gigs of data. And you'll get a question like, "Hey, this workflow's running for three hours and my computer sounds like it's going to throw up. How do I fix that?" And you'll get there. And really, it's just the placement of tools. Providing a little bit of information about best practices. The movement of data. So always remove as much data as possible before putting it downstream. So there's always little tips and tricks to get around that. 

BRIAN: 26:20 

What about the reverse? What's the coolest workflow or analytic solution you've ever seen, if you could talk about it. 

MARK: 26:28 

Cool. I think cool, Chris Love set that bar a couple of Inspires ago when there was a presentation about the Enigma machine and he just turned around and published an Enigma machine. You're listening to the concept and being able to apply it into a practice that quickly. That was a moment to geek out over. But just like that, I've seen customer user groups, when they were being exposed to connectors and we had a discussion about Google and Google Translate. And then coming back to the client and seeing that they've now integrated Google Translate into their workflows. I think that seeing somebody just take the concept and run with it is cool. 

TONY: 27:26 

Yeah. I'd really agree. The Enigma machine is one of them. That's super cool. It has a lot of historical impacts. And going back to the World War II days of being able to solve the German's secret coded messages. And now we're doing it in a tool like Alteryx. And there's a lot of other cool things you can do with the tool. Alteryx for Good is one where you get a lot of opportunities to work with people who actually are doing some good out there in the world. We're supporting opioid crises. We do a lot of other things where you're providing resources for water and being able to map water sources through Sub-Saharan and African countries. Things like that. And you start to make a difference. Not only are you helping people with their day-to-day, but you're also being able to help people on a broad and social level. And I think that's something that's really cool that we've been able to do. 

MARK: 28:20 

And if might, Tony, I was honored. I was part of the Alteryx for Good contingent at the Health & Human Services Code-a-Thon. And what we were able to present was a view of congressional districts across the US. And in the understanding of treatment options, we found roughly a dozen congressional districts that had zero treatment centers. And in the last year and a half, more than 8,000 people had died in those congressional districts. Now, I don't know if the number that they should have is 1 or 100, but the number 0 was just a striking number. And being part of that event really did change things for me. 

BRIAN: 29:19 

And what about the coolest thing you've ever built for yourself, for fun? I mean, we all use Alteryx for business use, obviously, but I know that there's a pretty strong contingent of folks out there using it just for fun side projects and things like that. So I'd love to hear from the creative side of the house, what's your passion? What's the neatest thing you've built that you'd like to talk about? 

TONY: 29:46 

Yeah. That's an interesting one. Because Alteryx does have so many different types of capabilities, you're learning something new each time you run through it. And I find out about APIs once I joined Alteryx. Being in college, I didn't have a whole lot of know-how about how to put something together like that. But what I found was two to them. And I guess I'll start-- We'll go back to baseball here. The first thing I ever built at Alteryx from start to finish was an API call that pulled in the probable pitchers for the Dodgers. And what I did is it tracked where the stadiums were. And we sell third-party data like Experian. And I pulled a number of different variables from there. 

TONY: 30:27 

What are the different types of restaurants? How much spend is being made through taxi services? What is the alcohol consumption in the area? And really gave each stadium kind of like a party score. So I would have a report that would print out. It would give me the probable pitchers for the day, a picture of the stadium, and all the different rankings that we had for a number of different variables ranging from food to taxi services to drinking. So I thought that was a lot of fun. And the Dodgers ranked in the top five for stadiums, Brian. I don't know, with the Diamondbacks, pretty low on that list. Not a cool place to be in Phoenix there. Pun intended as well. 

BRIAN: 31:10 

Well, one question I have though. In all seriousness though because I'm interested in your API. So did it factor in the fact that most Dodger fans show up in the third and leave in the seventh? Because I think that probably dramatically tips the scales on how much of a party can actually happen if you're never on time to the game. 

TONY: 31:28 

Right. Right. And like I said we were still in the top five [laughter]. So imagine if people actually showed up on time and stayed throughout the whole game. So it is skewed like you said. We probably would be number one. I know Boston and Chicago were up there for any Red Sox and Cubs fans. Congratulations. 

BRIAN: 31:44 

Yeah. That's where the real fans are at, for sure. 

TONY: 31:46 

The die-hards. Yeah. For sure. But baseball's just a way of life in California, so we just kind of get by. We like seeing the game. Coming and checking out the ballpark. Maybe catching a couple dingers. But that's really it. Once it comes to playoff time that's when it really matters. 

BRIAN: 32:00 

And how about your Star Wars API. What's that all about? 

TONY: 32:04 

Yeah. So another one I found was this SWAPI, S-W-A-P-I, which it stands for Star Wars API. And it's a database full of all the different characters, all the different starships, and it prints out a report of each one. And I actually have, here's a shameless plug for you, there's a Community article on this. And it'll teach you how to use the download tool to call an API, do some JSON parsing, then format a report. So not only was I able to do something that was fun, I think it's also something valuable to our users who are looking to do something like that. 

BRIAN: 32:42 

Very cool. Mark, how about you? What's the coolest thing you've ever made for yourself? 

MARK: 32:48 

Well, I like to know what national holiday is coming up. If you've noticed my avatars in Community. 

BRIAN: 32:56 

Ah, I have noticed. Now I'm going to hear the method behind the madness now. This is great. 

MARK: 33:01 

So every once in a while I go and I run up a search for what is out there for a holiday. And then I'll search for applicable GIF images. So as it turns out, May the Fourth Be With You is coming up or maybe is just past and I've mashed that together with Inspire for Disneyland. And my current avatar is Darth Vader in a Teacup ride at Disneyland. [music] 

BRIAN: 33:39 

So in the consulting enablement support world, I assume that you're all just getting tons of questions every single day about all kinds of different things. I'd love to hear, what's the question that you get every single day that you always answer? What's a question that you'd like to answer now for anybody listening that could get some value out of it and maybe take back home with them to their work with Alteryx? 

MARK: 34:07 

I think something that happens to most users is something that Tony spoke about. These cartesian joins. But it's not just the cartesian join that scares me, it's the join that puts out data but somehow there's been orphaned records that were expected to go through the join and you've lost data or you've got duplicate data that doesn't explode quite so dramatically. And so I offer to people that when you're expecting or have an expectation that you're going to go into a join and a pen data to that join and get every record and out that you use a test tool. That you put the test tool onto the left and/or the right join output anchors and find out, am I getting zero records like I'm expecting? An error in case they're records that are being dropped? Or if you're creating duplicate records and the input count does not equal the output count, there are a few tricks that you can do. And I put that under the title of defensive configuration. I think that learning that trick, if it were, is something that would save people a lot of embarrassment, say when they're doing data visualizations and somebody asked them the question and they go back and find, "Uh-oh. We dropped some data." 

TONY: 35:38 

And I guess on my side really the question I get the most, and whether this is in support or solutions consulting or even in account management, it's a very simple question. And it's, "Can Alteryx do that?" And my answer almost every time is, "Yes, it can." But what really is the discovery around it? You start taking a look at the use case from a broader range. But I've seen from our teams here, especially the technical side, whether it's solutions architects putting together something amazing and cool. Being able to scrape web data or putting together all new platforms within an organization and installing it within different types of environments. Going to the solutions consulting on a two-week trial period where, can this product do this for me? And you're trying to figure out how it does this? And you're reaching out to people. And every time it comes back to yes, Alteryx can do this. It's just really a platform that was built for data. And for the people. Because you get that simple question answered all the time with, yes, it's really great and it's really an interesting part of what we get to do is finding those use cases and saying yes to everything. 

TONY: 36:56 

But on the other hand, when it comes back to enabling and doing, since this is kind of the topic that we have here today, how much are you going to do for them? How much can you enable them to let them know and comfortably know and get a technical wind there on whether or not the product is capable of it? And that's always the most interesting one because it can go down so many different avenues. You never really know what type of use case you're going to go into. And going down the proverbial rabbit hole with Alteryx is really something that's a joy. [music] 

BRIAN: 37:31 

Okay. And so last but not least, let's give our Community picks. So Mark, let's start with you. What's been interesting lately in the Alteryx Community that you'd like others to go check out? 

MARK: 37:43 

Well, right now there's a contest, therefore, Analytic Excellence Awards. And so as a shameless plug, if you were to look for the use case with Tool Mastery in it. The Tool Mastery index is a team approach. And that post shows how you are able to look through, or I was able to look through the Alteryx knowledge base and harvest all of the Tool Mastery documents. Matt DeSimone took that and is now a regular feature in the Community. You can go and find the current Tool Mastery documents very quickly and it's been viewed some 20 plus thousand times. And a few less views than that, December of 2017, I was highlighted in a post from Leah where if you take a look at the Community highlights for December you'll be able to see a video that was created called Born to Solve. And when I saw that post, I was just amazed by Alteryx. And I could see so much that my efforts were appreciated by the company as well as by the people in the Community. So I thank Alteryx for taking the time to create that video and to the folks at Alteryx who had the inventiveness and the time to put this together for me. 

TONY: 39:34 

And for my pick, really there's one that stood out. And I just found out about this article recently. And this is one of the big questions I get asked a lot is, how do I compare, make a changelog, from version to version of my Alteryx workflow as well? Lo and behold, one of our engineers during our innovation days put together a command-line tool that will go ahead and generate a visual mark-up in designer to compare the two workflows. So it'll actually tell you if the configuration's different. If tools have been added. What's changed within each one. And I thought that was awesome. It's definitely something that we've had asked a lot. And lo and behold, Matt DeSimone put together the article and put it up there who's one of our great resources on that Community content. I'd also like to say, join a user group. While you're Alteryx knowledge is probably pretty strong, it's always great to share your knowledge across the larger user groups across Alteryx. 

BRIAN: 40:34 

Yeah. And two Matt DeSimone callouts. Or as he's affectionately known here at Alteryx, "Big Data" DeSimone. So we'll link to him in the show notes as we will everything else we've talked about today. And your picks here, so obviously everybody can go find those at And so my pick for, to round us out, is Alteryx Academy. I know we've talked about this on the show before, but there's a new development. We have recently added nine new interactive lessons. And they're in a course around spatial tools. So there was already sort of Alteryx for Excel users and beginning users to Alteryx and a series about the formula tool. And we've recently added one about spatial. So whether you've taken all of the previous interactive lessons or you'd like to get started, I highly recommend that. Spatial is a really cool area of the platform, and I think throughout the show, a lot of the things you talked about. The manufacturing trucking example, there's a lot of things you can do with the spatial tools, right, in Alteryx to really kind of take your analytics to the next level. So highly recommend that and we'll put the link to that in the show notes as well there. 

MARK: 41:55 

A call out to Christine for those courses. I took them the other day and while I am advanced course certified, looking forward to expert at Inspire, I did learn from going through the interactive lessons things about the spatial tools that I did not know, so. If you've been using the spatial tools for a long time, I still would come back to the Alteryx Academy and see what's inside those interactive lessons. 

BRIAN: 42:23 

Yeah. And I think on that vein, there's one other thing I'd like to mention. One of our most popular sessions many years running at Inspire, we do a session called Tips and Tricks. And it's typically put on by Margarita Wilshire and some other folks from our support team. And it's so popular because what it is, is you come to Inspire, you go to that session, and it's literally just 45 minutes or an hour of really practical, neat little tips and tricks about Alteryx Designer and beyond. And so you can learn all kinds of little things maybe you didn't know before. And we routinely have people that attend that session that are basically like, "Hey, I've been using Alteryx for a decade and I know everything there is to know about it." And they always come away from that with something they didn't know. So that's really cool. I highly recommend that if you're going to Inspire. Otherwise, they also have typically posted those on the Community post-Inspire. So we'll link to those in the show notes and you can go check out all of the neat little tips and tricks to kind of help you build your skills. 

TONY: 43:29 

And since we're talking about Inspire here, I want to give a shout-out to Zac Perkins who's putting together a course really to lead a session about self-service enablement plans for customers and champions who want to do that undertaking. Zac's a great resource, so I expect that course to be top-notch. So look out for it at Inspire here. 

BRIAN: 43:51 

Yes. And one last thing for Inspire that I was just reminded of, and this is relevant to our podcast listeners. So we are planning on doing some live recordings at Inspire US in Anaheim. So definitely come find us. Come check it out. You might get to be on the show. Talk to you a little bit about your experience at Inspire and anything you want to talk about, really. So both show up and come talk to us. And then also, for those of you listening, be on the lookout in the first week of June for some episodes around Inspire in the US. And then hopefully, we'll do the same stuff over in Europe and London. So yeah. It's going to be a great time. But anyway, thank you, Tony and Mark, for joining us here. This has been great. I enjoyed our spirited debates about baseball and learning from you about how you approach enable versus do and consulting and supporting and all that. So thanks so much for being on the show. 

TONY: 44:50 

Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. 

MARK: 44:51 

Thank you. [music] 

BRIAN: 44:56 

And Tony, our bashing each about baseball is going to be legendary on this podcast, so it's going to be great. 

TONY: 45:05 

I'm all for it. It's already something that everyone in the office I'm sure knows about at this point and time. I think we've actually scared a few people if they're walking by your office and I stop by. We're actually talking baseball. 

BRIAN: 45:18 

It gets a little heated. 

TONY: 45:18 

It does get heated. 

BRIAN: 45:19 

It can get a little heated. 

TONY: 45:20 

It's like, "Do they know each other? Are they friends? What's going on here?" 

MARK: 45:24 

And I thought it was good the way it was, but the editor might go and take advantage of you in the editing room. 

BRIAN: 45:31 

No. He would never do such a thing. 

TONY: 45:34 

I'm recording this myself, Brian, so [laughter]. 

BRIAN: 45:39 

I got receipts. 

TONY: 45:40 

I'll put out my own podcast if I have to. The truth will come out.