How accessible is Alteryx Designer software for newcomers? Ask Isaac Gonzalez, who taught himself to use the analytics process and automation platform after joining Alteryx in 2018.
“One of my first projects was building a workflow to help us deliver registration codes to customers for our annual Inspire Conference,” he explains. “One day I had 200 manual registrations to fulfill, and I just decided that I didn’t want to do that manually anymore. So I figured out a way to automate the process.” He had to pull order data from Salesforce, create filters and groups for different types of codes (depending on the customer order), and then develop a process to automatically email codes from the product to customers. Alteryx Designer’s intuitive interface and data blending tools made building the workflows easier and faster than he anticipated. “It’s so different than building out a formula in other tools and then just waiting to see what happens. With other tools, it’s like throwing a dart in a pitch-black room and hoping it’s going to work out.” “This time, I was able to drag and drop the tools onto the canvas, and then watch my data transform as the workloads ran,” Gonzalez says.Gonzalez’s experience highlights the potential of Alteryx Designer to solve almost any data challenge in any type of business.
Even at Alteryx — where Designer and other Alteryx tools are in constant use —people continually discover innovative ways to use the software. Previously, Gonzalez had been used to working in standard spreadsheet tools. He spent hours building formulas and lists for his finance classes at the University of Northern Colorado, and then later as solutions support administrator at a Colorado logistics company. In school, he’d create lengthy, time-consuming spreadsheets simulating the costs of running a company. On the job, he’d invest up to 25 hours each week in development time. In neither case was it clear that the formulas he created would work until the end. Alteryx Designer changed the game. Gonzalez estimates he can do the same amount of work in 5-10 hours per week. What’s more, he can work with the data and troubleshoot in the middle of building his workflows. “Alteryx is just a more powerful tool when dealing with large sets of data,” he says. Gonzalez says Designer opens up a world of new analytics opportunities. He’s explored many of these in his current role as an education operations specialist for Alteryx SparkEd, a free education program that offers Designer education licenses and learning pathways to colleges and universities. He also discovers new possibilities each time he engages with Alteryx customers, whose data volumes grow by the day.
Gaining an edge in any field with data insights
“A lot people think data analytics is only for finance and accounting departments, but just about any function at any company is collecting data in some way,” Gonzalez says. “The challenge is that they may not have access to it or know how to get insights from it. And that’s a problem, because if you don’t refer to current and accurate data to support your decisions, you might be making the wrong ones.” With Alteryx, you can go from data to discoveries to decisions in minutes, no matter what problem you’re trying to solve. “My last team had a saying,” Gonzalez reveals. “Every time someone asks, ‘How can we solve this?’, we would say ‘We’ll just Alteryx it.’ The moment someone comes to me with a problem, I’m already thinking of 5 or 10 or 20 different Designer tools to use in my workflow to solve it.”
Advice for students
Gonzalez is grateful for his spreadsheet-building experience, but if he has one piece of advice for students interested in a career that may include data analytics, it’s this: learn Alteryx as soon as possible. Visit the Alteryx SparkED education program to discover learning paths, certifications, and a Job Board.
“If I had been able to use Alteryx in school, I would have completed projects so much faster,” he says. “And I would have been learning skills that are just so useful beyond school.” Skills like understanding how to transform dozens of data sources into the focused insights companies crave. Or knowing how to tell a story with data so decision makers understand why the data matters and which actions to take. “This is unknown territory for a lot of companies,” he says. “They know they have the data, but they don’t have anybody who can work with it. Alteryx gives students and anyone else an advantage over a lot of people.”<And thanks to Designer’s simple drag-and-drop interface and powerful analytics tools, students don’t need coding skills to make in impact.
“Designer lets people of all skill levels work with a spreadsheet or data set that has a million rows of data,” Gonzalez says. “Whereas if you start with that same spreadsheet in another tool, you don’t even know where to begin. You don’t even know what you’re really looking at. Designer gives you the confidence to dive into any data set and just start working.” He also recommends visiting the Alteryx Community early and often. He visits almost every day to get help from its dedicated user base for specific problems, to learn how to use Designer tools he hasn’t used before, or to refresh his memory on specific processes.
“Sometimes I don’t know where to start, so I’ll just go to the Community and run a search. And so many times, I’ll find that someone has already solved it. I just need to connect the dots on how I can make that work for my own workflow.” It’s this sort of puzzle mastery that excites Gonzalez and promises to inspire him for years to come, no matter what project he’s working on. “I went from using spreadsheet tools the majority of my day to using Alteryx. It changes your life with the analysis benefits and timesaving it brings. The possibilities are endless.”
For more information, please visit: alteryx.com/sparked