I wrote this blog just as we launched our Alteryx for Beginners training course; aimed at explaining what Alteryx is and why you should look to add it to your skill set. In the past I have used a mixture of applications and languages to manipulate data including (but not limited to) MS Excel, MS Access, SQL, SED, AWK, GREP, MapInfo Professional and QGIS. All these skills have given me a great grounding in the areas of data manipulation and analysis.
What is Alteryx?
When we speak to junior data analysis candidates, 80% of the time they don’t know what Alteryx is – so what is it? Alteryx is a tool that simplifies and speeds up your prepping, blending, and analysing of data. From my many years of experience as an analyst I feel that the biggest barrier to doing analysis is that business systems are often not designed with analysis in mind. Analysis tends to be
is an after-thought and therefore data cleansing routines are almost always needed.
Take my experience of working for a major bingo operator. I was often tasked with using the membership database to investigate and analyse bingo club catchment areas. Data would invariably need cleaning, so I would use SQL scripts to get postcodes into the correct format to join to mapping data in the GIS. SQL is a great language and there will always be a need for it, but having used Alteryx now, the speed at which you can create processes versus writing lines of SQL code is so much quicker and simpler. I have examples like this in every analytical job I have done.
Alteryx has numerous “Tools” (We cover 24 in our training course) which basically connect data flows together via “Anchors” between tools. You save these connections of tools as “Workflows” which are easy to pick up and edit/run (Either if you have designed them or a colleague has). The biggest learning anyone new to Alteryx requires is to try and identify what tool you require to do a particular piece of data cleaning/joining/analysis.
My Favourite Alteryx Tool
I am still discovering new tools in Alteryx, but my favourite tool so far is the Join Tool. To this day when I am using SQL I would have to google/refer to notes on how to do Left and Right joins of data/tables (I am a bit out of practice to be honest). The join tool in Alteryx is simple to use as it has 2 input and 3 output anchors, giving all elements of a join output. Firstly, it gives a “J” output which is all records that join in between the 2 tables (Assume 2 tables, one is “L” [for left] the other is “R” [for right]). Then it gives an “L” output which is essentially all the records in table “L” that do not match to table “R”. Lastly it gives an “R” output which gives the remaining records in table “R” that do not match to table “L”.
Alteryx is the fastest growing analytics software company, showing 65% revenue growth from FY2018 to FY2019. As recruiters in analytical roles it is one of the most requested skillsets from our clients. If you are a GIS Analyst like me, you will be pleased to know that there are spatial tools within Alteryx so spatial queries and analysis can be achieved.
When I worked for BT I was on a team of pricing analysts who automated a pricing tool to cost and price up international connections to the BT Global Network. As part of that production team (5 of us) we spent about 8 weeks writing SQL code to automate the importing of data from MS Excel and then formatting and calculating pricing (Based on distance from location to BT network). If we had used Alteryx (It didn’t exist then) I am pretty sure we could have written the same process in a quarter of the time (which would have freed us all up to do the more value-add and fun analysis).
Also – the way workflows are put together is realty intuitive. How many times have you done some data analysis/cleaning in something like Excel or SQL and had to spend time working out what each step does? Well, with Alteryx it is easy to see what a workflow is doing and also to re-run all or some elements of it.
The major feedback we have from clients of ours is the price of Alteryx per seat. This makes it prohibitive in many cases and therefore also difficult for anyone to build up skills in this software. On the plus side, students can get a 12 months free licence. If you are a student, I would very much recommend you get a copy and ideally use it in an analysis project or final year dissertation. Alteryx also offer a free 4-week trial, so in the event that you don’t currently have the software you can activate your free trial and enrol on our introductory course.
Don’t delay, book yourself on our course!
In summary, Alteryx is a great tool that negates the need for coding and provides simple to use functions and tools to do most bits of data manipulation and blending that you would need to do with a variety of data sources for your analysis. To find out more – why not get in touch and come on our Alteryx for Beginners training course – you will at least come away with a good flavour of what Alteryx is capable of!
Click here to download the Alteryx for Beginners training course brochure and Course Dates and Price list. https://tinyurl.com/yxpt2lde
Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07918 653877 to book your place.
PS. We also have discounts available for booking multiple places, students, graduates and job seekers.