SRC Users Gather at Extend the Reach Conference

By Nora Parker

SRC held its Extend the Reach (Extend 09) conference last week in Broomfield, Colorado. Approximately 150 people attended the event, which was aimed at SRC users and partners. The users with whom I spoke were unanimously enthusiastic about SRC's offerings, especially Alteryx.

I attended presentations by several user organizations and strategic partners including Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions, Buxton, Environics Analytics and Quizno's. Arrow Electronics' Computing Services is a $4.8 billion "middle man" for computer components such as semi-conductors and chipsets, and a reseller of IBM, HP and Sun Microsystems computers. It is a division of Arrow Electronics, a $16 billion Fortune 200 company. The division sells products to a large supply chain of resellers. According to Eliot Arnold, marketing manager of the U.S. Federal Government Division, the company's historic business model of simply moving products from suppliers to resellers, who then moved them to end-users, was in the process of dying. The company needed a new strategy to keep its customer base of resellers.

"We've incubated ideas, and identified that data and intelligence are going to save our business," he said. The company is developing applications using Alteryx, referred to at the meeting as a "geographic business intelligence platform," to leverage historic data about the supply chain and provide actionable information to resellers. "Alteryx has been a really flexible agent to allow us to maneuver off legacy systems and on to new applications," he added. Arnold's colleague, Anthony Borovica, finance manager for the company's IBM division, explained further: "About 18 months ago, we implemented a mid-market strategy to help resellers sell more product. We had 5 million transaction records - four years worth of data. We wanted to link the customer record to a DUNS record [a number issued by Dun & Bradstreet to track information about a company] so we could tell what industry the customer was in [by linking to the Dun & Bradstreet-recorded SIC code]. Without Alteryx, we would have had to do that manually. With Alteryx, we've been able to supply this kind of analytics to many IBM partners." The idea was to retain reseller customers by helping them sell better, and the analytics Arrow supplied allowed them to identify which industry segments were their best customers. "We've got the only database that can do this for our resellers," he concluded. The project is in its early stages, but the company plans to roll out similar applications for its other divisions. Borovica mentioned they haven't even started to work with the spatial analytics in the product yet.

Environics Analytics, a Canadian-based micromarketing services company, has a new solution based on Alteryx (press release), according to its president, Jan Kestle. She described Envision as a Web-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) micromarketing application that will generate sophisticated site analytics reports. Kestle said the tool allows users to access the highly complex mathematical modeling required for some of the outputs in a SaaS environment, something which has not been possible before. "A 15-minute session can generate a lot of reporting - trade areas with distance decay, segmentation profiles, etc. - we can offer just about anything you'd want in a trade area analysis," she said.

I was given an Alteryx demo by SRC's Bill Flanagan, vice president of Professional Services, and my best analogy is that Alteryx is like a "sandbox" with shovels, buckets, little toy flags, jugs of water, scrapers, extra sand, and anything else you might like to play with in and around the sandbox. Instead of building sand castles, you're building applications that link databases and spatial operations. You build an old-fashioned flow-chart as you go, and can check results at any point in the process. Those applications can then be served out over the Internet using Alteryx Connect. Alteryx (free eval) can be used by 1) end-user organizations that have personnel who understand fairly complex spatial analytics; 2) SRC's professional services group; or 3) third-party resellers. feast

The Alteryx user interface, with the application workflow space in the center and tools on the right and left. (Click for larger image)

I found Alteryx to be one of the more intriguing offerings in the "business geographics space" in recent memory, and the lofty label of "geographic business intelligence platform" does not overstate the case.

Published Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Written by Nora Parker

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