I recently attended an Alteryx demo day to learn more about their new platform, Analytics Cloud. It’s a cloud-based version of Alteryx that doesn’t require local installation (this helps if you don’t run Windows). The platform combines three main elements: Designer Cloud, Alteryx Machine Learning, and Auto Insights. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on these features and discussing how they might benefit different users within an organisation.
Designer Cloud is the cloud version of Alteryx designer. It is basically the same as designer desktop, but as a web app. I can see a number of potential benefits to this;
- You don’t need to worry about installing it, having the right versions and updates etc.
- You can access it from different computers
- You don’t need to download the data locally.
- You can take advantage of cloud computing
This should make it much easier to work collaboratively with others on large data sets. There can be a single ‘source of truth’ that the entire organisation references. This would definitely be an improvement over the way I currently use Alteryx (in a vm on a MacBook).
Alteryx Machine Learning is another component of the Analytics Cloud platform.. The tool is designed to automatically try many different algorithms and find those that perform best. This means that the user doesn’t need to have advanced knowledge of machine learning algorithms themselves. I am a little skeptical about this for many use cases. I think that having an understanding of how your algorithms work is important, so that you can prep and structure your data correctly. It is also important to understand the limitations of the model, ensure it isn’t overfitting etc.It may be useful as a screening tool though. You could quickly run it to see if you get anything interesting, and move from there.
Auto Insights is the third component of Alteryx Analytics Cloud, and its primary goal is to simplify the process of generating insights from data. Unlike traditional BI dashboards and reporting tools, Auto Insights aims to reduce the need for human analysts to configure visualisations manually. I find this an interesting approach as it can be very annoying trying to get a visualisation to work the way you want it to.
One of the features of Auto Insights is its Search functionality, which utilizes natural language processing (NLP). This enables users to ask questions and receive responses in an easy-to-understand format.
Another feature of Auto Insights is its “What caused this?” functionality. It allows users to perform their own root cause analysis, guiding them to uncover insights that might have been missed otherwise. Auto Insights analyzes all dimensions of the data and proactively surfaces anomalies and outliers without needing direct human intervention.
I think this may be particularly useful when dealing with very large datasets. You could use it to try find interesting phenomena without having to come through the dataset by hand.
All in all I find the Alteryx cloud intriguing and am curious to see if it gets widely adopted. I think there could be a number of potentially interesting applications worth looking into.