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25 Questions to Ask Your Analytics Vendor Before You Buy

Before you put a ring on it, make sure your analytics solution is your perfect match

Foolproof Guide to Avoiding Buyer’s Remorse

Anyone working with or using data to fuel business decisions will likely reach a place in which spreadsheets just aren’t cutting it. If you're looking for a better way to handle your data and leverage better analytics, we're here to make sure you ask the right questions and get exactly what you need out of a solution.

Whether you're just starting your analytics journey or you’ve heard there’s a push towards adopting a data-driven culture, self-service analytics, such as Analytic Process Automation (APA), is likely where the conversation is headed. That’s great news! In the world of Big Data, finding a self-service data analytics solution is as vital as it has ever been. Determining the right solution will affect the kinds of questions you can ask of your data and how fast you can get to your answer.

Those exploring analytics solutions often look for five key features:

  1. Ease of use
  2. Low investment
  3. Extensible across data roles
  4. Integration with data sources and technology
  5. Excellent support

These are great starting points. But when evaluating self-service analytics platforms, you’ll want to consider questions like these and also some of the questions you might have down the road. After all, you don't know what you don't know yet. Later you'll have crystal clarity on what you truly need to be successful, but right now you're just seeing all the bells and whistles in demos from vendors, and everything looks as sparkly as a two-carat diamond ring.

We asked our in-house experts, two Solutions Engineers who meet with those exploring analytics platform options daily, what top questions you should ask vendors to help you see beyond a demo, trial, or proof of concept. When you ask tough questions, you get it right. And when you get it right, you avoid buyer’s remorse. (Oh, did we mention that some of our customers feel they’ve gotten it so right that they got tattoos of Alteryx symbols and named their babies “Alteryx”? You can’t make a commitment like this up.)

Whether or not you consider a tattoo of your vendor, we want you to have the kind of confidence in your solution that permanent ink would inspire. Here’s a checklist of 25 questions to ask your vendor that will future-proof your selection and enable you to be successful from installation all the way to enterprise scaling.

Moving from the Old to the New

  • Does your solution offer repeatability and automation so I can cut down on the prep workload and get to my insights faster?

  • Can I dive deeper into my data, asking questions like, “Which customers are more likely to churn?”, and still be able to leave work on time?

  • My team is made up of business analysts, data scientists, and line of business users with multiple skill sets. How can they all collaborate using your platform?

The Lowdown on Your Data

  • Does it matter how much data I have? What is the limit?

  • I have a large dataset and must validate multiple criteria. Is there a way to set up these tests and notify me of non-conformance?

  • My data exists on one of the big data platforms. Does your solution provide the flexibility to process my data in-place?

Do a Full Data Download: Ask About Shape, Form, Size, or Manner

  • Can I create a transparent process to automate my data preparation and blending in a code-free or code-friendly way?

  • My data is dirty and inconsistent. It also have unstructured text, including imades. Can your platform use text mining, convert units, replace null values, and remove unwanted characters or punctuation?

  • Can I easily join multiple data sources regardless of structure or data type and visually see all of my results?

Stop Playing Sherlock Holmes with Your Data

  • Can I connect directly to data repositories without waiting for IT?

  • How can you help me quickly and easily find, manage, understand, and collaborate on the data that resides in my organization?

  • My company is full of silos, which means we don’t share data and thus create inefficiencies in the business. Does your platform allow integration of different data sources into a single view that can be analyzed?

Exploring the Depths of Your Data

  • Can I see and analyze my data as it is being transformed throughout the process or do I have to wait until I create an output to discover errors?

The Ins and Out at the End — Reports and Outputting

  • What options do you offer for me to output my analytics results for consumption?

  • My manager keeps asking me to modify this report for different regions and date ranges. Can I create customizable reports to allow my boss to specify requirements?

To Code or Not To Code, That Should Be Up to You

  • Can I create models, such as logistic regressions, and score my data without coding on your platform?

  • Can I reuse my existing Python/R code?

  • I need to do real-time scoring and recommendations. How can your platform help me achieve this?

  • Data scientists and developers often speak different languages when it comes to coding. Can you help us integrate our models into business systems?

Let’s Get Advanced

  • How extensible is the platform? Can advanced or developer types create functionality that does not natively exist or call upon open-source libraries to create macros or use R/Python integration?

  • To get deeper insights, we are looking to integrate demographic/spatial data with our data. Does your platform easily combine third-party data?

That’s Great and All, But Let’s Talk Departments and

  • IT — Let’s talk about security. Do you provide a governed self-service data analytics solution?

  • Finance — How can you help me deliver improved and increased transparency, reconciliations, and efficiency?

  • For a full list of solutions-specific questions and topics, explore our solutions by analytics need, department, or industry.

Before You Dash Off, Ask About Dashboards

  • Can I create a workflow that updates my Tableau or other Vis tool and runs on a schedule?

Guarantee You Are Not Alone, Ask About Community

  • What kind of support resources do you offer? Is there an online community, in-person events, or conferences where I can go when I get stuck or want to advance my learning?

Stump Us: What’s your burning question not covered here?


Pop the Big Question

The big question now is whether or not your solution answers YES to all of these questions. If so, it’s time to put a ring on it already. You were born to solve, not stay posted at your desk generating or asking for the same reports.

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