Alteryx is a rising star in the world of self-service ETL and analytics. I wrote about their offering from time to time when I was an independent analyst and truly free to write about anything my heart desired. Loyal readers know that I have been a fan of the Alteryx solution for a few years now after initially giving them a bit of grief over their pricing model. Well, they listened to my suggestions and other feedback from the market. They did change the pricing model, added more targeted offerings and guess what? In 2014 and 2015, Alteryx totally rocked the Gartner BI Magic Quadrant reports AND they were included in the first ever Gartner Advanced Analytics Magic Quadrant for their simple yet powerful, drag-and-drop predictive analytics. Alteryx had one of the largest positive leaps in year-over-year Gartner rating performance that I had ever seen in my 20 year career!

So earlier this year when the CEO of Alteryx reached out to me about potential partnership with Microsoft, I was quite enthusiastic about the possibilities. Our engineering teams came together and collaborated on various integration points with Power BI REST API, Cortana Analytics Suite, Revolution Analytics R, SQL Server, SharePoint and Excel. Then the Alteryx team went back and cooked up one totally amazing Visual Analytics Kit for analysts that was just released last month.

Playing with the Visual Analytics Kit

Even though I am constantly sleep deprived since coming back to Microsoft’s 24×7 agile software development aka extreme weekly release “experience”, I could not resist downloading the Visual Analytics Kit instantly to see what it can do.

I LOVE the way the Alteryx team packages up end-to-end samples with fabulous documentation. It is the best that I have seen in the ETL market. Software vendors take note at how Alteryx delivers a not only a fantastic user experience but also totally brilliant, practical training material for FREE.


Granted I am technical, I was able to get functional in a couple minutes. It took longer for me to download the Visual Analytics Kit from my slow hotel wireless connection. The new Alteryx Power BI output destination simply required that I enter in my OAuth credentials. I merely opened a packaged sample, reviewed the workflow tasks, edited my Power BI output connector data set name, log in info, clicked the green run workflow button in Alteryx Designer 10.0 and ta-da, I had a working demo of Alteryx + Power BI. It can’t get much easier than that!

Alteryx + Power BI

What about Power Query?

Power Query is also a best-in-class, self-service ETL solution that is optimized for Power BI. These offerings are different and can be complementary. By combining Alteryx and Microsoft Power BI, business analysts can streamline and accelerate the process of preparing and analyzing data. Alteryx provides rich data source access with visual workflows that can be output to multiple destinations. One of the FAQs that I get now with regards to Alteryx versus Power Query is when to use one or the other. Basically I am telling folks that if you want self-service ETL to output data to more than Excel or Power BI Desktop, it may make sense to review Alteryx. Power Query and Power BI Desktop integrated self-service ETL only loads data into an Excel spreadsheet, Excel Power Pivot model or Power BI Desktop model. Other reasons for choosing Alteryx include the excellent visual workflow design experience, in-database blending capabilities, value-add premium data sets, geospatial algorithms and additional data source types.

It may not seem important but in reality the intuitive visual workflow approach is easy for non-technical business analysts to get functional rapidly. According to Alteryx, 86% of their new users deliver business value using their product within their first week after installation. Compelling solution design and awesome training material really do make a difference. Anyone that analyzes data for a living knows that ETL is the 80% level of effort “hard part” of a BI or analytics project. Visualization is the easy part! So if you can speed up and automate the ETL, then you are an analytics hero.

Learn More in Our Joint Webinar

If the new Microsoft + Alteryx solution sounds appealing to you. I am hosting a joint LIVE webinar with the Alteryx team on Tuesday, November 3 from 9:00-10:00AM PST.  If you can’t make that day or time, no worries. We will also keep this link active for on-demand viewing.

In our webinar we will cover the following topics:

  • Combining the power of Alteryx and Microsoft Power BI
  • Utilizing drag-and-drop workflows to build analytic datasets for Power BI
  • Incorporating geospatial and advanced analytics to drive deeper visual analysis
  • Asking natural language questions via Q&A, reports and dashboards
  • Sharing visual analysis and collaborating across an organization

Back to PASS Summit 2015 Coverage

That’s all I have for now on this cool topic. There is still so much more to write about from PASS Summit 2015’s totally awe-inspiring, mind blowing Microsoft Reporting Roadmap and all the goodness FINALLY coming for Microsoft on premises customers.