Alteryx: The best analysis program in 2018?

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Alteryx is a fantastic tool for performing analysis, that you might not have heard of.  What is it, and should you learn it?  Are there Alteryx jobs that you should look for?  Well I recorded this video to help you make that decision.

But first, If you are looking for an analytics job please check out my complete guide to getting a job in analytics, linked below and subscribe to this channel so you get all our updates.

Alteryx is a newer analytics program which is essentially a graphical user interface for R.  It offers what they call “self serve data analytics.”  What they mean when they say that is, “hey busy executive, you don’t need to hire analysts, you can crunch your own data.”  Sounds ridiculous right?  Well, believe it or not, it kind of is that easy.

Alteryx is the best analytical program I have seen for people who don’t know how to write code.  Alteryx won the 2017 consumers choice award from Gartner, and anyone who has used it and other programs understands why.

Gartner customer reviews for Alteryx

Who should learn it?   

Anyone who wants to perform complex data analysis without learning how to code should use Alteryx.  It is also the perfect tool for management consultants.  I loved it at BCG, and I have friends at McKinsey and Bain who are also fans.

However, If you are looking for a job in analytics, this is probably not the place to start.

What are the Advantages?

The first advantage is easy.  It’s easy.  Like really easy.  It’s a GUI that works how a GUI is supposed to work, intuitive and simple.

Second is that the visual workflows make complex tasks easy to understand and troubleshoot.  Other software packages try to do this, but Alteryx does it right. (add picture of visual workflow)

Third is a big reason why it is perfect for consultants.  It can handle any type of data you throw at it.  Sas, csv, txt, salesforce, literally whatever you want.

Finally, its flexible; if you do know how to code you can use something called a regex to write python or R code directly in alteryx.

What are the disadvantages?

First, it is expensive.  For a personal license it is a lot of money.  Like a whole lot.  Like a couple months’ rent a lot.

Second, it is not super powerful or often used in production code.  I don’t think it is even possible to use in production, I’ve never heard of it and they don’t advertise those capabilities on their site.

Finally, native graphing functionality is hard to use.  It’s the only part of the GUI that is not intuitive.  It is built on an R package called ggplot2, which is extremely powerful, but the learning curve is steep.

There is a workaround in that it works naturally with Tableau…which is amazing graphing software…but Tableau also costs money and Alteryx is already expensive.

How to get it?

Here is the crummy part of alteryx.  The best you can do is a 14 day free trial, after that you need to pay.

How to learn it:

The good news about that 14 day trial is that if you actually work on it, you can learn how to do an awful lot on it.  It really is that easy.

In order to learn how to use it Alteryx has lots of its own resources, many of which are free.  There are self paced classes as well as instructor led ones, those aren’t free, but the self paced stuff is good enough that you can learn quickly.

Example: Data blending best practices in Alteryx

I had a teammate at BCG who needed to use alteryx to build a model.  One morning she turned and asked me what a join was.  If you’re a real beginner that’s one of the ways that you put two data sets together…real foundational stuff for analysis and she didn’t know what it was.  By the next morning she had built a large and functional model.  Literally 24 hours after not knowing what a join was.  Alteryx is that easy.

Conclusion:

Alteryx is a fantastic choice for performing analysis.  If you are a consultant, or are looking for a new platform to use at your company, Alteryx is a great choice.  If you are a job seeker and are looking for skills to help you land a job, there are better things to learn than Alteryx.