Former Senior Vice President at Alteryx
Mike has 35 years experience selling enterprise software. He is the Former Senior Vice President of Customer Success at Alteryx where he was responsible for rolling out the land and expand strategy for the business. Previously, Mike was VP at Quest Software and spent 2 years at both Marketlive and Datasweep in the early 2000’s. He enjoyed 3 years as Senior Vice President at Portal Software which was later acquired by Oracle and started his career in 1988 at Sybase, a SAP company today. Read moreView Profile Page
Can you provide a short introduction to your experience and role at Alteryx?
I've got about 35 years’ experience in the enterprise software business and I’ve seen a variety of technologies and applications through the years. As my career evolved and I finally wound up at Alteryx, I thought it was a very interesting opportunity to have this focus as the Senior Vice President of Customer Success on really helping clients understand the technology and then build all the enablement around the land, expand and retention strategies. It was really a customer focus and providing them the tools of training, professional services, technical support and technical pre-sales.
What was the original value proposition of the platform Alteryx was offering?
If we think back 10 years ago, in the marketplace at that time for analytics, you had the big stack vendors that still exist today, but it was dominated by IT; it was dominated by technologies which, while they were very powerful, they required professional developers to implement. Often, what would happen was, you would give your requirements as an end user and then those requirements would come back in the form of a dashboard. By the time you got them back, it could be two, three, four, five months and perhaps the business problem had changed.
So along comes a tool like Alteryx, and some others like Tableau, that gave that the tool directly to the business analyst who understood the problem, who understood the data that they were dealing with but now, they had a tool that could provide them answers without any programming or any IT support. That was the fundamental problem that Alteryx was solving. They gave that analyst who knows the business problem, who knows their data, the ability to self-serve to solve their problem in a timely manner.
This is on-premise hosted solution?
It is on-premise hosted and we can talk about cloud later. Where the data or where the tools reside is less important than who's actually developing these solutions. Is it someone in IT who is very technical and very good at writing Perl or Python, or is it someone who lives in the business every single day and is trying to solve a real problem in a timely manner?
That's where our market has moved, whether it's Tableau or Alteryx or other products, it's getting those tools into the hands of the people who really understand the business problem.
Can we just take a step back and explore how the analytics platform fits into the full enterprise stack with visualization tools, databases and so forth?
This is something that Alteryx really figured out early. The components you just mentioned are all that; they’re just components. Part of the challenge is when people were trying to build these solutions, you had separate tools. You had the problem of, how do I get my data into the database and then how do I analyze it and then, finally, how do I visualize and display it? Oftentimes, they were different tools and they were different people with different priorities. You had this kind of production chain here, but not everyone was aligned and if you're the analyst, you're waiting for your data to get loaded. You're then waiting for it to be somehow cleansed and then some macros run to analyze it.
That was how all these products fit together. They take out all the seams of those different components, put it into one single tool with a common user interface without any programming and it's just putting the power of those tools into the hand of the analyst, who really understands the problem. That's where it all fits together. It eliminates the seams of the data prep and analytic process.
If I ingest the data into Alteryx, they then integrate with other solutions, like Tableau or, potentially, other tools as well?
Correct. A key point is with modern tools like an Alteryx, you don't need to ingest it into the tool which is pretty impractical when you have big data. These tools are smart enough to access the data wherever it may be. It could be on-prem, it could be in cloud, it could be a third party, marketing data, traffic data, demographic data. It's the ability to access all of those seamlessly and bring it into a single interface to provide you the results. It's less about on-premise, where it resides, and all about the process and how you access it.
The solution, effectively, is you link or integrate your data sources, Alteryx then aggregates that data, blends it, mixes it and allows you to analyze or synthesize that data?
Absolutely and one of the things I've had the privilege of doing, particularly in my time in Alteryx, is spending a lot of time with customers. What you would hear over and over and over again, from someone who's called the business analyst, is they spend 60% to 80% of their workweek, every week, just preparing the data so they can finally do their job as a business analyst. They typically access between five to seven different data sources; some on-prem, some in the cloud, some third party. But can you imagine coming to work every week and doing the same repetitive task over and over again, before you can provide the people you support any insight into the data?
Modern tools, like Alteryx and others, give that analyst the ability to automate and repeat that process every single week, with a series of just drag and drop tools. That's really the power of this modern stack of products versus the legacy products. That's what's fundamentally changed the game in analytics.
Moving on to look at the land and expand strategy, talking about the original adopter, the land part, which type of person was actually adopting the Alteryx Designer product?
If I go back in time, Alteryx had a product that was really suited for the geospatial market. The people who were primarily buying that product were those in corporate real estate, quick service restaurants, big box retailers who were trying to figure out, where do I put the next store? You're looking at demographic data, traffic data, other economic data, cannibalization strategy and you had a product that did that and did it really well, ingesting all those data sources. At that time, we're talking eight to 10 years ago, the broader analytics market was starting to really open up so the decision made at that time was look, let's expand our horizons out of corporate real estate.
Let's drop the price point to pretty much what you see today and let's make this a broadly available product that's ubiquitous across the organization; not just in corporate real estate, but in sales marketing, sales operation, manufacturing, finance. That was the beginning of the strategy that said, we have a much broader based tool and a huge market. That market is really someone who is a business analyst, who spends a lot of their time doing pivot tables or VLOOKUPs in Excel. That was really the decision. That's the market we were going to go after and that started, really, the beginning of a different land strategy.