Last June 2019, I was in Nashville, Tennessee to attend Alteryx Inspire 2019, a four-day conference where analysts from various industries gathered to share best practices on Alteryx, a proprietary software for data analytics.

Alteryx is my bread and butter at work: I use this software to prepare and transform millions of records into consumable information. This software is fast and easy-to-learn, compared with open-source tools like Python and Talend. But don't be fooled by the low learning curve, there is so much to discover with this software.

Below are the highlights and key learnings I got from Inspire'19:

  1. Alteryx's Features Worth Exploring - Click here
  2. Ideas learned from Real Estate and Finance - Click here
  3. Seeing Malcolm Gladwell live - Click here
  4. What's to see in Nashville - Click here
  5. Networking Events - Click here

1. Alteryx's Features Worth Exploring

As a power user of Alteryx, I aimed to improve my technical skills and to maximize the software's extensive features. That's why I attended company talks with actual demonstrations on how they use the product.

American Airlines presented how they use Alteryx to schedule flights. Their use of batch macros and batch directories were notable. I was also impressed at how organized and well-documented their Alteryx workflows are.

Image: American Airlines' demonstration. See the slides here

Gain Theory, an analytics consulting firm, integrates Alteryx with other technologies, such as Python and Amazon S3, to improve the efficiency of the data cleaning process. They also demonstrated how they used Analytic apps in their operational reporting

Image: Gain Theory' demonstration. See the slides here

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2. Ideas learned from Real Estate and Finance

Just like my strategy in Tableau Conference 2018, I also sought after sessions discussing proven mental models on how to gain insights with data. I also wanted to improve my strategic and analytical thinking, apart from my technical skills.

CBRE, a property management company, is one of the major presenters in the conference. I like how they present their executive summary and their methodology in this manner.

Image: CBRE presentation. See the slides here

Cetera Financial Group had an outstanding presentation on using Alteryx to create their revenue and expense forecasting model. One remarkable insight I learned from this talk is the Dual Brain Metaphor, or the marriage of science and art in working with data.

One example to illustrate this idea are musicians: behind the art of creating beautiful music are the technicalities of timbre mathematics, harmony macro economics, etc.

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3. Malcolm Gladwell

Image: Criteria of Law School Rankings Law: US News Methodology vs the straightforward LSAT/Price/Faculty (slide)

Malcolm Gladwell, the author of NYT bestsellers Outliers and Blink, gave the keynote speech during the conference. He advocates the use of data to reevaluate how we perceive things around us.

To illustrate this, he discussed the US Law School ranking system, which was one of his examples cited in his New Yorker article.

He questioned if the current criteria actually reflects the quality of education that the school provides. A thought exercise he proposed: Why don't we trim down the criteria to 3 things: LSAT scores, price and faculty?

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4. What's to see in Nashville

Apart from the conference, we also enjoyed ourselves touring Nashville, the city of music.

Images: Nashville streets, Parthenon, Grand Ole Opry

Nashville shattered my preconceived notion of Southern states. It's surprising progressive! It has a semblance of San Francisco's cityscape and New Orleans' Southern feel. The balance is actually refreshing.

Some landmarks we visited were The Parthenon, Vanderbilt University and the famous Grand Ole Opry. I would say that anyone can roam around this city in about two days.

Images: Nashville downtown, Honky-tonky bars, Sports bar

We spent some nights in downtown where all the Honky tonk bars are, and some in sport bars to watch the NBA finals (GSW vs Raptors).

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5. Meeting New People

Alteryx APAC organized an intimate dinner for Alteryx users in Asia Pacific and Australia. We've met participants from Australia and Singapore.

Image: APAC Dinner at Jack Daniel's Bar

Being a female participant, I was invited to join the Women of Analytics luncheon, where women in C-level positions shared career and life tips. Apologies for having no nice photos of the event.

Image: Panelist of the Women of Analytics lucheon

Lastly, the closing party was nice way to cap off the event. Here are my only photos of the event.

Images: Rooftop bar, Photo-op with an Alteryx exec

Final Thoughts

Compared to the millennial crowd of TC18, Inspire'19 participants looked a bit older on average (We felt we were the youngest!). The crowd was an interesting mix of business people (execs and analysts) and technical experts. The conference was also generous to give out freebies: Nike jackets, water bottles, mugs, etc!

I personally enjoyed the conference. It inspired me to allocate more time to learn the advanced features of this tool. There is so much potential in the tool, but I must determine which would yield the most business impact. - EM

Images: Free Nike jacket, Me at the Bambooms booth