The Making Data Work Blog

Getting Started with Alteryx

[fa icon="calendar"] 10-Aug-2018 15:32:00 / by Oli Skinner

Oli Skinner

If you're thinking about learning Alteryx, or simply interested in what it can be used for, you have come to the right place. The aim of this blog is to give you an understanding of how to get started using Alteryx and to provide some resources that I have found helpful. 

When I joined the CDO Partners 'Making Data Work Academy' I immediately began to learn the data vizualisation tool, Tableau. This is an excellent visualisation tool providing your data is in the right format, however when your data is not 'clean' it can be extremely taxing. I'm sure a number of you reading this blog are here because you wish to be able to prepare your data to make it easy to plot within your visualisation package. Alteryx is synergistic with data visualisation tools such as Tableau or Qlik and in my opinion should be in the toolbox of anyone using them. 


At CDO we strive to equip our consultants with a complete toolset to allow them to take raw data, through data cleansing and finally to visualise it in order to extract insights. Alteryx allows the user to create schedulable workflows that can be run by anyone in order to process the data ready for visualisation. This means you could have your data prepped over night ready for when you sit down at your desk in the morning! 

 

After a modest time training I was able to independently create workflows (without assistance from our resisident Alteryx geniuses) and use Alteryx to generally make my life easier as a data analyst. I attended an Alteryx Self-Service Analytics Workshop. This is a hands-on workshop lead by a developer to teach the fundamentals of data loading and basic manipulation in Alteryx and demonstrate how powerful a tool it is when utilised properly. This is a free service and allows you to get using Alteryx with a developer alongside to guide you through some worked examples and clarify any questions you may have. This workshop began by covering the basics of data loading and cleansing from a range of sources, including data warehouses and cloud-based applications. We then covered joining multiple datasets and eventually progressing onto creating predictive models without the need to write pages of code. This day at Alteryx's office in London gave me a very rounded view of what Alteryx is, where it fits into the data visualisation process and how best to utilise it for our business needs. Here's the workflow we created: 

alteryx workshop

 

I also completed the Self-Paced Exercises, created and hosted by Alteryx themselves, this resource has been invaluable in giving me a familiarisation with the tools in Alteryx. Being able to work through the exercises at my own pace and explore the different ways of completing them I have been able to gain a wider knowledge of the tools and how best to combine them to get the results I want. With beginner, intermediate and advanced exercises all with annotated solutions, this is a must for learning Alteryx. Why not download the free 14 day trial of Alteryx and try them for yourself? 

Alteryx Community is among the best places to get support, ask questions and learn. It contains some useful knowledge such as Tool Mastery which describes how to use each tool and gives examples of it being used, perfect for independent learning. Alteryx Commuinity also hosts Live Training, which are a series of webinars describing topics covering a range of features from Alteryx Essentials to Regression Modelling, so whatever your ability there is something for you in the Community. 

Why not try your hand at one of the weekly challenges

Finally I want to talk about my favourite feature of Alteryx, called Regular Expressions or 'RegEx'. I believe that RegEx is one of the most versatile tools within Alteryx and it is one that is well worth taking the time to understand. Using a language of symbols it allows you to search your data for any combination of letters and numbers. For example, finding a British mobile number. We know it will take the form, +(44) 7891 012345, so why not simply tell Alteryx to return any number which begins with +(44) followed by 10 numbers?

Below is a helpful tutorial & cheat sheet to assist you in writing RegEx commands for yourself.     

https://regexone.com/ 

Still stuggling with Alteryx? Why not check out our FLEXpertise service, book time with our qualified consultants from as little as an hour and recieve bespoke help with your workflows. 

 View our FLEXpertise Service

 

 

Topics: "alteryx", 2018, data, StorytellingWithData, Data Prep