Company background: Alteryx is the only quick-to-implement, end-to-end data analytics platform for the enterprise that allows data scientists and data analysts alike to break the barriers to insight, so everyone can experience the thrill of getting to the answer faster.
Contact: Joe Miller, Christine Bonthius, Elizabeth Bonnell, Leah Knowles and Julie Hamel.
Related URLs: community.alteryx.com, academy.alteryx.com
Lithy category: B2B Community Innovator
1. Describe the innovation(s) and how you settled on the decision to innovate
The data analytics/data science industry continues to explode. 364,000 industry-related jobs were created in 2017 and the number is projected to reach 2,720,000 positions in 2020*. To service a rapidly growing industry, many analytics companies are caught up in a platform adoption arms race. In this race for industry dominance, software companies walk a fine line between offering highly-advanced analytical capabilities and creating an extremely approachable tool enablement experience.
For many years, like most organizations, Alteryx offered a broad set of learning resources ranging from day(s) long on-site training offerings to highly technical 45-60 minute video tutorials available on the .com. Despite these resources, we began to see a steep decline in viewership and overall engagement - webinars were poorly attended and day-long training bordered on net-loss with resource time and travel. We also began hearing from customers that they were not satisfied with our offerings. So, we decided to take a closer look at the data.
The first key insight we discovered was that viewers of our video-based training content on alteryx.com spent only 4 minutes on average watching the videos. Only 4 minutes? How could that be when most of them are an hour long? We decided to reach out and ask customers that had recently viewed the training. That’s when we uncovered additional insights:
This motif showed up frequently in further customer interviews and data alike - our customers simply do not have time to learn the skills their job demands of them, and furthermore, they are learning on the job.
They didn’t want or need hours long technical deep dives. They needed short, focused, just-in-time learning in multiple formats that suited their individual styles. They needed to learn from their peers and share back what they themselves had learned. They needed to be incentivized and rewarded for growing their skills as a data analyst.
They needed Alteryx Academy.
2. Tell us about how you made it happen
The first challenge that we had to overcome was to build a program to service hundreds of thousands of customers without burdening the business with high subscription costs. The value we wanted to drive as a result of providing a free service was threefold:
We wanted all of this, and we wanted it IN Community.
Our first step was to ask ourselves, “How can we leverage existing Lithium platform capabilities to accomplish these goals?”
We started small by introducing Live Training and Weekly Challenges as a first step, leveraging the Lithium forum discussion style with very minimal customizations.
In the background, we were hard at work building out our library of short interactive lessons to round out the end-to-end learning experience we knew our customers needed from the beginning.
In August 2017, we pushed our first version of Interactive Lessons into beta for the Alteryx ACEs (our most prominent brand advocates) to review and then went live shortly after in September 2017 with our first production ready learning platform. The combination of the newly available Interactive Lessons, along with Live Training, and Weekly Challenges, was the first step in building what is now known as Alteryx Academy.
As time went on, we continued to iterate and improve our offerings based on user feedback. Customers wanted to view their learning progress, an index of offerings, and yearned for a sense of continuity.
In October of 2017, we took on a radical design change and developed Academy to be unlike any other area of our Community. The new look and feel helped create an environment that felt like its own platform and its own brand while maintaining the homogeneous benefits, knowledge, and support of the Community as a whole.
However, one thing was missing: the means to an end. We were servicing people on a just-in-time basis and wanted to offer more motivation for learning outside of the day-to-day humdrum. In November 2017, we integrated our newly minted Product Certification Program.
Now customers learned with a goal greater than just getting through the day, they wanted to be better.
3. What were the results?
Customer Cost Savings
In keeping with our intense focus on the success of our customers, the first outcome is cost savings for our customers. Previously the cost for an Alteryx Professional to go onsite for 1 day and train 30 users averaged about $4,000, amounting to outside organizations footing a bill for roughly $16/hour for enablement. With Alteryx Academy, enablement has been built into the Community and the cost for beginning enablement has been completely removed.
In July of 2018, 3,664 hours of Interactive Lesson content was delivered for a scarce operating cost of $96.17. The 2.5 cent cost, while small, shrinks even more when you consider the many, many days our organization saves money on focusing our services teams on solution engineering and removing them for frequent and laborious enablement sessions.
If every customer who took our services in July were conveniently grouped into classrooms of 30 users, it would have taken 10 employees 2 weeks to deliver the same volume. Assuming a $100K salary, $38,461 flows back to the business in the span of just one month. Across a year of the system being live, we estimate that Academy generated around $1.4M in savings for the business.
The benefits to overall community engagement have been astounding. Not only does Alteryx Academy provide several lower barrier-to-entry opportunities for members to engage, we also see a direct correlation between involvement in Academy and accepted solution rates from members. The Weekly Challenges provide a great example of what we’ve uncovered in the data.
As you can see, individuals who participate in the Weekly Challenges have a higher solve rate as more challenges are completed. We hear time and time again, that users are beginning to view helping others solve their problems in our forums as an opportunity to learn new skills.
They get their feet wet by participating in the Weekly Challenges, putting their Alteryx skills into practice and collaborating with peers to solve unique (& fun) problem sets,
and at some point a lightbulb goes off…
There’s a whole community full of opportunities to “experience the thrill inherent in solving problems!”
Here are just a few customer testimonials to demonstrate the impact:
“The catapulting of my career over the past year is, no exaggeration, 100% due to my participation in the Weekly Challenges. Just over a year ago, I started doing the Spatial challenges as a way to practice for the 2017 Grand Prix prelims, since I’d never touched the Spatial tools before… Fast forward 3 months, and I had solved all the Weekly Challenges available to date and made a bunch of new friends in the Community. Fast forward another 3 months, and I had a new job at data-intensive, Alteryx-loving T-Mobile… Fast forward another 6 months, and I will be presenting at the Inspire 2018 conference, have launched an internal Alteryx user group at T-Mobile (with 100+ users for the first meeting!), saved over 75 hours with the workflows I’ve published, and couldn’t possibly imagine loving my job any more than I do. The skillset Alteryx has given me has made me instantly valuable to this new team, and the best part is that it doesn’t even feel like work… this is just plain FUN. And I can honestly say that the ceiling on my career has been shattered because of the things I can now do with Alteryx. Someday, in the Academy-Award-esque speech at the conclusion of my exciting and challenging career, I will be able to point to the exact moment when this wild and crazy world of data and analytics opportunities opened up for me – the day I opened up that first Weekly Challenge workflow.”
Since the launch of Alteryx Academy in Q4 2017, customers have consumed over 160,000 Interactive Lessons and obtained 3,500 product certifications across three exams.
Participating users are ramping up their skills faster, improving their careers, and organizations are able to better identify quality talent as they seek analysts with proven expertise. Some organizations have even begun requiring certification as part of their on-boarding processes to the Alteryx platform.
When all is said and done, nearly a year elapsed from POC, to content development, to Alpha, to Beta, to Prod and to Prod two times more. While we'd like to call it an end result, this nomination serves as a stop gap in the larger picture of our customer-driven learning strategy.
As much as we want to credit ourselves for this achievement, we simply facilitated the customer's dreams and they rewarded us with their success.
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