Data Scientist with Alteryx
This is how Alteryx made me a Data scientist over the course of a few weeks!
With Alteryx i can read data from any data source do calculations and write back to any data source or just write directly to a Tableau file. The days of knowing 20 different coding languages are over as the program handles that on the back-end. I can spend my time analysing and providing insights to the rest of the team. This is the story of my transformation from survey expert to Data Scientist.
1 year ago I was a survey expert capable of building advanced analytics in SPSS, polishing them in excel and presenting them in powerpoint. Survey data was my niche but when my clients presented me with data of different kinds or even worse data in different systems I was not able to do much more, than export to excel and do simple calculations. I was tied to a specific datatype and a specific program. I could have learned SAS or SQL - and I even started a few times but the task seemed too big for me to handle. The motivation I had when learning SPSS was not the same with the second language as I told my self (and my boss) "I already know how to code SPSS lets use that instead". So I cramped data of all sorts into SPSS and few good things came out the other end.
The problem however didn't end here. The person who hired me had hired me because he didn't have time for all the SPSS coding he used to do. The same was the case with my colleagues. The effect was that the entire unit and much of the company was like me tied to single products and sources. The good thing was that we could pad each other on the back and say that SPSS was the king, the bad thing was that when clients began to deliver us giant datasets of web-traffic data, sales data or wanted to see his results on specific geographical areas we had to out-source. As the data grew in size and complexity our out-sourcing bill grew with it. This was where I left the company...
The New Paradigm
A few years a few jobs and a masters thesis later I was back at datacrunching. This time however I was doing it in Inviso and the data coming in was rarely surveydata. Data types varied as often as customers and the size of datasets quickly outmatched the 1 million rows limit of excel. So motivation to find something new was back. Enter Alteryx.
The time was summer 2014 and Tom Brown of The Information Lab presented me with Alteryx. He made a brief demo and I was less than convinced. He had simple merged two files, made a few formulas and outputted it to Tableau. But that lack of enthusiasm was due to my lack of understanding. I told myself that I could as quickly have merged two files in SPSS... but that was the point. One SPSS file merged with another. With Alteryx I can now merge one SQL table with one Oracle table and an excel sheet with just a few clicks. I can do this even when the datasets contains millions of rows. And now that I have 1/10 of the Alteryx experience that I have SPSS experience I can do it faster than I ever could.
Gone are the borders of individual systems and codes - now analytics is King!
The Right Tool
As my experience with Alteryx grows my understanding of the true potential grows as well. We can do geo-spatial analysis, pull out data from web services through Rest APIs, build dynamic macros which change with the input, do advanced statistics and so much more all within the Alteryx drag and drop interface. 6 months ago I didn't know what an API was and had no clue how to use SQL databases for anything. I havn't become a coding genius over night, I was just handed the right tool.
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