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Alteryx’s Low-Code Analytics Automation Platform Helps Democratize Data Analytics

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Alteryx’s analytics automation platform aims to help businesses of all sizes and individuals get the most out of their data. The company helps customers make sense of their data with low-code tools that enable them to build analytical workflows and create insights within the organization.

“Whether the data sits in Excel files, customer databases, cloud applications or cloud warehouses, we help our customers make sense of the data each and every day by giving them access to 200+ low-code tools that allow them to do complex analytics tasks,” says Suresh Vittal, Chief Product Officer at Alteryx, on the latest episode of TFiR Let’s Talk.

Key highlights from this video interview are:

  • Vittal explains who their customer base is and why making sense of data is so critical in today’s world.
  • The move to the cloud is having a significant impact on data. Vittal discusses the trends that are being seen in data with the increased adoption of cloud and how it is affecting companies today. He explains how data is helping businesses stay competitive as they go through digital transformation and the role AI/ML is playing.
  • Gaps in the supply and demand of data scientists continue to present challenges to companies as they grapple to find people with the right skill set. Vittal discusses how Alteryx is upskilling the enterprise and democratizing data and insights inside the enterprise.
  • Vittal discusses Alteryx’s acquisition of Trifacta and how it is helping accelerate its cloud journey, bringing new capabilities to the Alteryx machine learning product. He also discusses the acquisition of Hyper Anna, and how it is helping knowledge workers and business owners who are not familiar with the data get the insights they need.
  • The democratization of analytics is as much about technology and upskilling as it is about cultural changes within organizations. Vittal explains how their analytics assessment tool kit is helping organizations and individuals assess where they are on their analytics journey and what changes they will need to make to continue to embrace analytics.
  • Alteryx boasts several hundred thousand ace Alteryx users who contribute their time and attention to the community. Vittal elaborates further on Alteryx’s community and its annual event, which aims to bring together the community to share insights, best practices and customer stories. The next conference is being held in Denver, May 16-18.

Connect with Suresh Vittal LinkedIn, Twitter

The summary of the show is written by Emily Nicholls.

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Here is the automated and unedited transcript of the recording. Please note that the transcript has not been edited or reviewed. 

Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is your host Swapnil Bhartiya and welcome TFiR Let’s Talk. And today we are here with us Suresh Vittal, chief product officer at Alteryx. Suresh, it’s great to have you on the show.

Suresh Vittal: Great to be here with you, Swapnil.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Perfect. Since this is the first time we are talking, I would love to hear a bit more about the company. Tell us what do you folks do?

Suresh Vittal: Yeah. Alteryx is an analytics automation platform. I think of it as the best analytics automation platform on the planet. We help business users, knowledge workers across enterprises, small and midsize companies and individuals to be able to make the most out of their data.

Whether the data sits in Excel files, whether the data sits in customer databases, in cloud applications or in cloud warehouses. We help our customers make sense of the data each and every day by giving them access to 200 plus low-code tools that allow them to do complex analytics tasks. Allows them to do complicated machine learning models, helps them build analytical workflows and create insights and create new capabilities within the organization.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Do you folks like targeted specific industries or it doesn’t really matter?

Suresh Vittal: Anybody and everybody has to wrestle with data today. If you’re in an enterprise and if you have customers. Your customers may be consumers, your customers may be other businesses. You have a data challenge. Your data is fragmented. It’s across multiple systems.

And as the business owner or the business analyst, you are responsible for helping make sense of all that data and translate that into insights. And help your business convert that into actions. And Alteryx is where it all starts.

Swapnil Bhartiya: What kind of major trends that you are seeing in this space recently? Of course, first of all, there is a lot of movement happening towards cloud. COVID also created a different need and rush towards cloud. Everything is AI, ML driven. Talk about what are you seeing

Suresh Vittal: There? Yeah, Swapnil, that’s a great question. One of the big trends we are seeing is the variety and velocity and fragmentation of data is only increasing. Think about an average company. They probably have Salesforce, they have ServiceNow for service tickets. They’re probably using Excel. Or they have a customer database or a supplier database.

These companies, these teams are really seeing a lot of data come at them, especially as experience are becoming digital. You’re able to capture the digital footprint of every single experience. And then you want to translate that, understand that, and apply that to drive your business. And so that’s one big trend. The volume, variety and velocity of the data is only going up.

Another big trend we are seeing is every knowledge worker inside the business is required to be able to handle data and handle analytics. Data has become really the secret weapon to help businesses stay competitive in this digital transformation that they’re all going through. That’s a trend. We’re seeing more and more demands for use cases and applications of that data. That’s only going up as well.

You brought up a great point. I think the application of AI and ML in every company is becoming more in demand. That means one of the trends we’re seeing is the data scientists, they’re in high demand. They don’t always have time to serve all the needs of the enterprise and that’s hot.

And so, what we’re seeing is the need for more self-service analytics, more self-service insights, more self-service data science capabilities across the enterprise. These are at least three trends that we see over and over again, three or four trends that we see over and over again.

Swapnil Bhartiya: And this also leads to another interesting point, which is we are already seeing in tech space, there’s a shortage or there’s a gap of supply and demand of talented folks who understand that. And then you talk about data scientists. They’re already a species which is very hard to find. And then there’s a spike in usage.

Now, in the early days, we used to say every company, you should have a software division, otherwise you cannot survive. Now, every company has to have a cloud strategy. Now soon, you have to have AI, ML strategy also. Plus which, I mean, first of all, when you look at hyperscale like Amazon, they sniper all the talented folks that come into the industry.

And then you have small folks who also want to run their business. When you talk about velocity and volume, when you also talk about that, everybody is moving towards that, which also created a totally unique challenge, where people are trying to solve different problems, but they are not enough folks there.

Also some of these technologies, cloud technology is so new that people barely know them for just let alone that they are expert. How do you look at some of the big challenges also that are there with this growing trend?

Suresh Vittal: I love that you asked the question firstly, Swapnil, because this is really a human and a skills problem inside the enterprise. And I think you pinpointed on something super important. Data science used to be thought of as let’s find a massive problem with lots of data. And then we’ll do a big bang approach and there’ll be a lot of services tied to it. And we’ll create one master model and that’s going to solve all the problems.

But the reality is exactly what you described. The data scientists are way much in demand and they don’t have the time to help the business. The people who understand the data, the people who can actually help build the best model are the analysts and the people running the business. What if you could bring the power of data science to each and every one of these analysts and these individuals.

We at Alteryx are super passionate about that. We call this upskilling the enterprise. And bringing democratizing data and insights inside the enterprise. And the only way you can do that is if you can empower every analyst inside the enterprise, every knowledge worker to be able to apply data science, apply machine learning, apply complex advanced analytics capabilities in their everyday tasks in their everyday functions.

And that’s exactly what we subscribe to. And we think if we can do that, if we can make data science capable across the organization, every individual capable across the organization, and they are using data science in every aspect of the job, the productivity and the insights is only going to go up.

Swapnil Bhartiya: We talked about some broader trends. We talked about some problem area. We also not essentially the solution area, but let’s also see what is Alteryx doing to help? We talked about some problem. What are you folks doing? Because usually recently also announced analytics cloud. You also acquired a company earlier, Trifacta. Let’s talk about the movements that are happening within Alteryx to help the ecosystem solve some of these problems.

Suresh Vittal: Yeah. Thank you for asking that. Alteryx has been a much beloved product inside the enterprise for the last 15, 20 years. Analysts everywhere have used Alteryx to make complex data analytics simple. And so, as we looked at our product strategy and our company strategy, we see real value in helping democratize analytics. Make the power of Alteryx available, not just to the power user or the knowledge worker, but to every person, every casual user should have the benefit of the power of Alteryx in the organization.

What we did was we took our designer desktop and server products, and we embarked on this cloud journey and we got these capabilities available in the cloud for our customers. But we didn’t stop there. We said, “Look, data engineering is becoming a bigger challenge inside the companies.” As company data is moving to cloud warehouses. You need to be able to leverage those cloud native systems. You talked about hyperscalers. You need to be able to leverage the hyperscalers, to be able to drive more analytics and more value out of your investments.

We acquired a company called TriFacta, which helps accelerate our cloud journey. It has built in tools that are native to the different cloud platforms, Google, Google BigQuery, Amazon Redshift, Snowflake, Azure Data Lake, and so on and so forth. And so we think that’s going to be really important in how we help companies democratize this analytics capabilities.

Then we didn’t stop there. We said, we also want to bring more cloud capabilities, more innovation, and really unlock innovation for our customers. We brought in a product called Alteryx Machine Learning. And what Alteryx Machine Learning does is, the point I was making earlier, it makes it easier for the knowledge worker to embrace analytics, advanced analytics, like AI and ML, like auto modeling capabilities. And then test that, learn from that and see if they want to deploy that into production.

But you need to give them a structured environment to do that. You need to give them governance to do that. You need to be able to help them operationalize that stuff. And we brought all of these capabilities into our Alteryx machine learning product.

We also acquired a company called Hyper Anna, which became Alteryx Auto Insights. And we think there’s real power if we can take Hyper Anna and put it in the hands of every knowledge worker, every business owner. People who are not familiar with the data can ask questions of Alteryx Auto Insights in plain English and get the responses sent back to them.

We have a world class AI system that is scouring the data, scanning, creating insights, insights that aren’t apparent to the analyst, and surfacing them to the business owners. And we think there’s a lot of power in that story as well. And so we’ve been really busy this past year in bringing a lot of this innovation. And this year we are on the journey of just helping our customers adopt and embrace and get value out of these products.

Swapnil Bhartiya: One more thing that I want to talk to you about is cultural changes. Whenever we talk about these technology, of course there are solutions, but you also need cultural change within organizations. When we look at purely this space, analytic space, as you were talking about trends, adoption is growing. How much are you seeing the cultural changes are also happening? Where teams are prepared and they do understand the value and importance. It’s not forced from top down management. Or in other way, how are you becoming a catalyst to that cultural change through your tools?

Suresh Vittal: Swapnil, you are really locked onto the zeitgeist of these analytical issues. I appreciate these questions so much. I think this cultural journey around democratization of analytics is as much about it is about technology and upskilling that I talked about, as it is about shifting the culture to be data first and insight driven inside the organization.

Now, this will happen in a few different stages. And really to help our customers, what we’ve done is we’ve created this analytics assessment tool kit, which really helps an organization, helps an individual assess where they are on the analytics journey.

Do they have the right technical skills? Do they have the right AI and ML skills? Do they have advanced analysts inside the organization? Do they have a company that’s responsive to data and insights and change? How should they structure it? Should they centralize insights? Should they decentralize insights? How do they support a self-service center of excellence?

Over the past 20 years, we’ve been helping our customers. We have almost 8,000 customers. We’ve been helping these customers democratize analytics inside the organization because we truly believe it has to be for everyone. But a company that needs to be the cultural change. We work with our partners, companies like PwC and KPMG, who are with these customers day in, day out.

But we are also bringing these tools, these assessment capabilities and making them available to our customer success organization, through our support organization, through our services organization. We’re making it available to our customers so they can assess where they are in the journey and some of the changes that they need to make to continue to embrace analytics. It’s a profound question. It goes beyond technology. And frankly, it requires the organization to come together to embrace analytics.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Right. And when we talk about going beyond technology, we start talking about people. We also talk about bringing people together and that’s where events and conferences play a big role and you folks are going to organize Inspire. Tell us about that event, the format of the event, what people should expect there.

Suresh Vittal: Yeah. We’re excited. Alteryx has this amazing community of several hundred thousand Alteryx users. These are users who are probably using Alteryx for the first time and they’re coming to our community to learn more. But these are also our aces. These are our super powered users who contribute so much time and attention to the community. And for that, we are very grateful. And we arrange, we organize Inspire every year, which is truly an inspirational event to bring the Alteryx community together, to share best practices, share insights, share customer stories.

Last year, when I talked about it was my first Inspire. I was blown away. We did it only online. And there were tens of thousands of community members joining us online and sharing their best practices and their capabilities. This year, we are doing it in-person because we think there’s real value in bringing people together in-person. We also have a virtual track. For those people who are unable to travel or don’t want to, we’ll deliver this content in a virtual setting as well.

We have hundreds of case studies, we’ll be giving awards to our customers, recognizing them for their pioneering activity and analytics, and we’ll have some great keynote speakers and some great presenters throughout the three days of the conference. The conference is being held in Denver, May 16 to May 18th. And Swapnil, I hope you’ll be there. And, and many of your listeners will join us there as well.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Suresh, thank you so much for taking time out today. And of course, talk about the company. But more importantly, the lessons and other things that we learned more about how this whole world is changing around us and the role that you for supplying this. Thanks for those insights. And of course, we would love to attend the event as well. And I would love to have you back on the show again. Thank you.

Suresh Vittal: Invite me anytime, Swapnil. It was great catching up with you.

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