Alteryx Inspire 2019: A Look Back
We survived the whirlwind, excitement, bright lights, and stimulation that was Alteryx Inspire 2019! As the adrenaline levels off, we can reflect on the great experience and exciting take-aways that are forthcoming from Alteryx.
First, it’s hard not to notice how exponentially fast the Inspire conference continues to grow year after year; so many like-minded, data-inclined folks have discovered the amazing tool and groups are flocking to this one-of-a-kind event! However, this is no surprise; when the Alteryx tool is recognized six consecutive times in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Science and Machine Learning Platforms, you know you have something special and people are driven to be a part of it. This year’s attendance at the conference was nearly 5,000 – up 2,000 from last year!
Alteryx spared no expense to show their appreciation for their thousands of users and participants at Inspire: food and beverage were provided in the highest quality, accommodations were lavish, transportation was provided and made convenient when necessary, and swag and goodies could be collected and earned throughout the week. We felt right at home when reuniting with our Alteryx Account Reps who are scattered throughout the US.
After getting settled in on Day 1, Day 2 brought us into the meat and potatoes of the conference. There were so many meaningful and intriguing conference sessions offered that it was hard to choose which to attend. Continuus Technologies earned Premier Partner status with Alteryx in 2018, so our biggest gig at the conference was the Partner Summit.
Partner Advisory Council
Here we proudly represented Continuus and enjoyed seeing our brand included on the slides for top analytic consultant contributors. Our commander-in-chief at Continuus, Matt Moeser, is part of the elite Alteryx Partner Advisor Council, and naturally we wore that proudly as well!
Let’s talk about the exciting things forthcoming in Alteryx Designer.
As far as immediately available features, the features currently in beta, and those on the roadmap, we see a strong focus on keeping the end user in flow while developing. Most of the functionality released in the 2019.2—announced at the conference— and the betas revolve around that end—making your development hyper efficient.
Input Data Tool and Output Data Tool
You can now connect to a data source and output to a data source through a data connections window. You can choose from the following connections: recent, saved, files, data sources, and Alteryx Gallery. You can also drag and drop files onto the Data connections window to bring data into your workflow.
The results window is now interactive. You can now filter, search, and sort in the results window. See Results Window.
Currently in beta testing for Designer is Assisted Modeling. To quote the Alteryx Community directly,
“This powerful application in Designer walks analysts and citizen data scientists through the process of building a predictive model - from data prep to model selection. This guided, step-by-step experience with embedded help and tooltips empowers you to learn as you go—no need for formal education or extra training. At the end of the process, Assisted Modeling generates a machine-learning pipeline for you, so you also get the transparency you need to collaborate with data scientists and ensure your models meet your organization's standards. With an end-to-end modeling workflow, you can go from dirty data to actionable insights all within your favorite analytics platform and without any additional cost.”
Alteryx Grand Prix, Malcolm Gladwell, and More
Now that we’ve covered that, there’s still more about the conference to share!
Of course, who can forget the Inspire tradition of the Alteryx Grand Prix, where 5 finalists face off in an elimination-style competition, armed with their Alteryx skills and on-call personal pit crew to race to solve a 4-part analytics workflow challenge! The goal is to reach the solution, accurately, in the shortest time.
Here’s how it went: each round was introduced with a story problem/a real-world situation, that required solving by way of a workflow. A solution was shown to the crowd, with the disclosure that other ways of reaching the same result are naturally possible, and the racers stood by with noise-cancelling headphones, ready to roll. Racers are permitted to use one pit stop – a short visit with their pit crew – per round; outside of the pit stops, each racer maintains solitude with the noise-cancelling headphones. Each of the 5 participants started with a blank page and built their solution from scratch, live in front of nearly 5,000 on-lookers. The place in which they finished the previous round set their position to start in the next. It was fascinating to watch everyone think and act quickly, and to witness where they get tripped up and how they work through it! The Grand Prix definitely made the highlight reel!
Another event at Inspire we thoroughly enjoyed was the keynote delivered by famed podcaster and author of The Tipping Point, Malcom Gladwell. Of the many conferences I personally have attended, this keynote will always stand out. He presented facts about how the educational system is evaluated – for example, class size. Over the past decades, research has supported the idea that smaller class size correlates to increased learning and better performance on tests, but also that there is a point at which class size is too small; there are too few brains to contribute to discussions and generate thought-provoking ideas in a group. Another aspect Gladwell explored was that teachers are evaluated yearly based on their students’ performance with a standardized evaluation that doesn’t take factors, like a student’s primary first language, into consideration. Many of our educational systems base teacher compensation and placement on these evaluations, but it’s clear that this process misses the mark based on some of these variables that are being ignored. Gladwell’s discussion was eye-opening and intriguing. In a room full of data-inclined specialists, his speech was relevant to Alteryx in how we organize, process, and reach conclusions with data; in his topic; and in the way we think about education and evaluate professionals in the field. Bravo! He has now joined my assortment of preferred podcasts!
We at Continuus are thrilled to have participated in another year of Alteryx Inspire. Exciting things are coming! We know we are in the right place as Premier Partners and we look forward to continuing to share Alteryx with clients to revolutionize data science and analytics, and break barriers to achieving faster insights with data.