The application of data analytics outside of tech: Alteryx

Data analytics firm Alteryx believes every company should see themselves as a data company, given that data is available to be captured, analysed, and used in a number of applications across different industries.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the largest content aggregator on the planet and is all generally unstructured, according to data analytics company Alteryx.

Alteryx, which opened its Australian office just over 90 days ago, has over 40 local customers, including Macquarie University, University of Western Sydney, McDonald's, Australia Post, Tourism Australia, and Queensland Government Health.

CEO Dean Stoecker said every company now views themselves as a data company and the applications of what they can do with their data is "fascinating".

"I've often found myself in this position where I'm working in a team, trying to get a project done, and you say something stupid like, 'We're not curing cancer'. Actually it turns out we're an active participant in curing cancer with this platform," Stoecker said.

"We work with the Nuclear Pharmacy division of pharmaceutical company Cardinal Health, and they make the drug F18, which is a nuclear medicine they inject into your body before a PET scan, to help detect and even mitigate cancers."

Stoecker said the problem with F18 is it has to be made in an expensive cyclotron, and cyclotrons need to be spaced throughout the United States as the drug's half life is only six hours, with four hours taken up by making a batch.

"[Cardinal Health's] challenge is how to make enough F18 at each of the cyclotrons to make sure it can get to the oncologist's office, and the patient going through treatment can get there, too, within six hours.

"They built very sophisticated regression models to calculate how much F18 to make at which cyclotron to ensure they had minimal waste and efficient delivery of F18 to oncologists; it's just a fascinating story."

Stoecker said making a difference to communities and individuals highlights the true potential of big data.

"The information worker of the future has to have basic analytic skill sets, and is going to have to know how to consume data from all over the place to live their life, and to manage their own health," he said.

Alteryx recently conducted a "big data challenge" with the University of Connecticut, giving students real data to solve real-world problems, such as global warming and healthcare. Stoecker said the team that won built models to predict childhood obesity.

Alteryx's long list of US healthcare customers include the likes of ophthalmology firm Alcon, US health insurance providers Anthem, as well as Fallon Health, Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center, Baptist Health System, the nonprofit Beacon Health System, Colorado Hospital Association, Emergency Medical Services Authority, vitamin and supplements store Emerson Ecologics, and the Entomological Society of America.

"Due to Obamacare, we're working a lot with healthcare in the US," Stoecker said. "People are trying to predict when somebody is going to be readmitted into the emergency room, as that is one of the biggest costs for hospitals."

Stoecker said if someone comes in due to having a cold then is readmitted a fortnight later for something such as an ankle injury, the healthcare industry are trying to tie such instances together. He said the IoT implications on the healthcare industry are going to be huge.

"You want to find the needle in the haystack when it comes to customer analytics, but if that's the case you actually have to see the whole haystack. We believe the platform has to allow you to see all the data in order to find out what's really important," he said.

With companies drowning in data, Stoecker said Alteryx is working with manufacturers who have sensors embedded in their equipment, such as industrial company Ingersoll Rand, which has sensors in its heating, cooling, and ventilation equipment. The purpose of these sensors, he said, is to predict before a piece of equipment is going to fail by analysing sensor data.

"We have tonnes of those in every industry," he said.

"The Bolton Wanderers Football Club in the UK was trying to better understand players' behaviour on the field. So instead of watching footage they tied GPS devices to [the players'] shoelaces."

Stoecker said Alteryx captured and analysed the data so players and coaching staff could understand on field analytics, and make recommendations to the players on where they need to be when competing with "x,y,z competitor".

Alteryx said the application translates over to law enforcement, as well.

"One of the world's largest manufacturers of ankle bracelets for felons has fitted their devices with audio devices and GPS receivers," he said.

"The job of the company we work with is to provide analytics to the police forces to make sure they're efficiently managing the convicted felons, as there's not much room in American prisons.

"We actually produced dashboards that demonstrate who's inbounds, and who's out of bounds, and will send the wearer an audio message that says, 'Hey Dean, you're out of bounds' when they leave their boundary."

Stoecker said this data is then aggregated and provided to the police force.

"We are in a generational shift in enterprise computing; fortunately, we believe we are driving the change."

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