From data science to enterprise-wide analytics solution: the Alteryx journey
Most people know Alteryx for its ability to empower everyday analysts to tackle data prep and blending issues, as well as to support citizen data scientists with statistical, predictive modelling and spatial analytics on the ground. However, in his keynote speech at Alteryx Inspire 2017 in Las Vegas (read conference highlights here), Dean Stoecker, Chairman, CEO and founding partner of Alteryx, gave us a bigger vision of where Alteryx is heading. Since its IPO earlier this year which generated significant funds, Alteryx has boosted its strategic appeal beyond everyday analysts to include Chief Data Officers (CDOs). They are shifting their approach and strategy to become the enterprise data platform of choice for the CDO.
An enterprise data Platform for the CDO
In the past, the idea of Alteryx users being empowered to grab data independently from governed and ungoverned sources and build data workflows of their own would be concerning for CDOs. CDOs must strike the balance between ensuring enterprise-wide data governance and enabling the valuable work of data scientists to develop to fruition in a timely manner.
This year, Alteryx has the CDOs's challenges squarely in its sights with the unveiling of two additions to its software line. The acquisitions will enable them to bring their vision of the enterprise analytics platform – one that allows enterprise-wide data governance – to market much quicker.
1. Alteryx Connect
Alteryx Connect was originally developed by Prague-based company, Semanta, and is a platform that allows you to govern and curate your data estate from data sources, through Alteryx workflows, to reports in Tableau and other BI tools. The idea is to provide an enterprise-level data semantic layer to allow people to search for data and data processes wherever it is in the organisation. With the current focus on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this is a very timely offering in the EU. It would not cover ALL the GDPR requirements, but would definitely cover the difficult parts of determining what data lies where and how it is used.
With Alteryx Connect, users will see a host of new capabilities:
- Assemble all your data information in one place
- Define business terms for data and link to technical assets
- Automatically load asset information from databases, Alteryx Gallery and BI systems
- Boosted search across all information assets
- Discovery of new assets through data feeds and relationships
- Identification of trusted, curated and popular assets
Enrichment and Collaboration
- Promote and describe assets to aid search
- Annotate, discuss and rate information assets
- Collaborate and recommend assets with others
- Define and explain your business terms
- Establish relationships between business terms and technical assets
What we saw
We had a hands-on demo of Alteryx Connect, to see how easily we could use it to search our data assets, from databases, and flat files, through Alteryx workflows all the way to Tableau dashboards that used the data. In terms of determining lineage of data through from source to target, this seemed to work very well. Furthermore, the ability to recommend data assets to help others find good data sources makes the tool collaborative.
What we know and expect
Alteryx Connect is almost ready for release, with an expected release date in August 2017. It will initially be available to anyone with Alteryx Server from 11.5, and require a separate download and install, but will not require a separate license purchase.
Alteryx Connect will initially be able:
- To describe assets from databases, Alteryx Server and Tableau dashboards
- To be pointed at databases and Alteryx Server to scan for assets and determine data lineage
It's not confirmed yet whether Alteryx Connect will automatically scan a Tableau Server to determine assets, but we should expect this by the time of release.
Alteryx has also purchased YHat, a data science platform that provides tools and systems for enterprises to turn data insights into data-driven products. By incorporating this platform into their already-strong data science offering, Alteryx will be able to make data curation, deployment, testing, embedding and training of models even easier via a Model Management platform.
Model Management platform will enable the following:
Self-service model deployment
- Exposing R and Python models, via REST API without recoding
- Embed machine learning models into any web or mobile app
- Real-time scoring and predictions
- Highly scalable clustered architecture
- Manage, track and report model predictions in production
- Model, data and system auditing
Rapid iteration and improvement
- Version control and tracking
- Automated unit testing
What we know and expect
The purchase of YHat has only just been completed, so there is currently no preview of the platform within an Alteryx ecosystem. We would not expect to see YHat (or whatever Alteryx wil rebrand it to) at least until early next year. The licensing model will likely follow Alteryx Connect for the first year.
These two acquisitions have marked Alteryx's expansion in strategy and target audience. Although its core product will always be Alteryx Designer, the expansion of the Server Platform to include Alteryx Connect for data discovery, curation and lineage on one side, and the enterprise data science platform with YHat on the other, all of a sudden makes Alteryx Server a much more holistic and tempting offering, especially if the price-point does not shift significantly.
That integrated end-to-end enterprise platform may well be an attractive offer, and part of many CDOs strategy going forward.
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