Alteryx expands product set, makes data science acquisition

Alteryx, fresh off its IPO, introduces Alteryx Connect, a data catalog/governance product based off its previously undisclosed acquisition of Semanta. Alteryx is also announcing its acquisition of Yhat, a startup specializing in data science development, management, and deployment.
Written by Andrew Brust, Contributor

You have to hand it to Alteryx: after having been in the BI game since 1997 as SRC, LLC, the company has ridden the big data analytics wave to great success.

In 2010, the company pivoted toward data preparation, renaming itself after its core product, Alteryx. The company IPO'd on the New York Stock Exchange on March 24 this year, at $14/share and closed at $20.45 on Friday, a record high for the new stock.

All this time, Alteryx has been a one-product company, albeit with a product that encompasses data ingest, preparation, analysis, egress, and even predictive analytics. But if you're gonna go public, it makes sense to build out your product portfolio.

Introducing Alteryx Connect
Well, less than 3 months after its IPO, at its Inspire conference, being held in Las Vegas this week, Alteryx is announcing a new product: Alteryx Connect, covering data catalog functionality, including the social and collaborative side of that work, as well as the data governance side or curating, managing, and searching for data sets, apps, visualizations, and dashboards.

The new product, as it turns out, comes through Alteryx's acquisition of Czech data governance firm Semanta, completed earlier this year under unspecified terms, and being announced today.

I spoke with Alteryx CEO and co-founder Dean Stoecker (who was also SRC's CEO, back in the day), who described Connect as a Google/LinkedIn-like environment for collaborating and discovering data. Stoecker also allowed as to how this product fits perfectly into Alteryx's embrace of the self-service movement in analytics, the latter of which, he says, is no longer the exclusive domain of IT and "quants."

Getting predictive
Another piece of the core Alteryx product that ties into that observation is its predictive analytics capabilities, derived in large part from its integration with the R programming language. Thing is, making good use of that functionality is really reliant on data scientists' own efforts in building and deploying predictive models that Alteryx users can the consume.

Meanwhile, the entire industry's story around managing and productionalizing these models and their deployment has been lacking, to put it politely. In fact, Stoecker, quoting from the Rexer Analytics 2015 Data Science Survey, told me that only 13 percent of data scientists said their models always get deployed. Meanwhile, Stoecker says that 45 percent of Alteryx's customer accounts make use of its predictive capabilities.

"I've Got a Company to Sell You in Brooklyn"
Likely with that in mind, Alteryx is also announcing today that it has acquired Yhat, a startup based across the river from me in Brooklyn, NY, and focused on the development, management and deployment of machine learning/predictive models for data scientists.

"Yhat shares a core value with Alteryx of making analytics easier through self-service tools for its customers," Stoecker said in the company's press release on the Yhat acquisition. He continued: "Today's data scientists are spending too much time building advanced models that never reach deployment. With Alteryx and Yhat technology, we expect to make modeling tools more accessible to accelerate deployment, saving time and frustration..."

In that same press release, Austin Ogilvie, CEO of Yhat, said "We are excited to be part of the Alteryx family, and to help make it even easier to create, manage, and deploy analytic models with fewer resources and in less time." That leaves it a little unclear if Yhat's technology will remain standalone or if it will be integrated into the core Alteryx product. But with all the hoopla around AI and deep learning, anything that adds some enterprise rigor to model management and deployment is a welcome thing, and a competitive advantage.

Other stuff
Connect and Yhat are not the only announcements Alteryx is making at Inspire. The company is also talking about new connectors for blockchain data and for SAP. The former is being provided by French company Keyrus Group, who in fact announced the connector in November of last year and made it available for download on the Alteryx Analytics Gallery.

Alteryx is even demoing integration with Amazon Alexa. While such an interface seems a bit far-fetched, it might open up the Alteryx product to an audience that goes beyond those comfortable building "boxes and lines" workflows that are the staple of working with Alteryx today.

No matter what, it's hard to fault a 20 year-old company -- that IPO'd just this year -- for looking toward the future.

Disclosure: I serve as Senior Director, Market Strategy and Intelligence for Datameer, a competitor of Alteryx. Alteryx is aware of my role at Datameer and graciously briefed me on the material in this post, regardless.

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