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Businesses continue to try to increase productivity and simplify tasks in order to use their time smarter. Our recent business technology innovation research found that, when it comes to analytics, 44 percent of organizations spend the most time on data-related tasks. With lack of resources being the largest issue impeding the adoption of technology, IT must operate efficiently while getting business the data it needs on a timely basis. Scribe Solutions has a business-centric data integration solution that operates in the cloud. Over the last 15 years Scribe has accumulated more than 12,000 customers worldwide that span from Fortune 500 to midsize to small organizations. Scribe enables business to access marketing and sales data (part of CRM) like that in Microsoft Dynamics. It has built a strong presence indirectly and through Microsoft partners; it claims to have more than 1,000 partners, and has been expanding efforts to broaden its position by supporting a range of data sources, including Salesforce.com. Scribe focuses on what I call information optimization, providing value from information management investments, as I outlined in our research agenda.
Scribe addresses multipoint integration that cuts across departments and across on-premises and cloud computing environments. Our research into data in the cloud found lack of implementation resources to be the major obstacle in 31 percent of organizations. Scribe’s product Scribe Online operates in the cloud and facilitates the integration of on-premises and cloud-based environments. It provides a replication service that helps get a copy of data from one point to many and ensures that data is available when users need it. This is especially important when you have a multitude of applications in the cloud for marketing, sales and customer services that need to interoperate, and if you need data that is generated in another application or is in a legacy on-premises application.
Scribe’s latest release simplifies the visual integration environment and provides some core functionality to expand its value to business. Its Integration Service enables synchronization processes to update as data is generated and provides methods to transform data to a form used by an organization’s business intelligence or analytics software. Scribe enables these capabilities through integration agents deployed with the applications.
I got a product demonstration that provided insight to the usability of the product, which our data in the cloud benchmark found was the most important evaluation criteria according to 56% of organizations. Scribe has built an approach that is usable by business. It lets users position graphical blocks that comprise integrations, eliminating the need for a DBA, though data-savvy professionals can set up the configuration of the blocks to enable business to access to data at any time in a safe and governed manner. Business analysts can easily adjust parameters to the blocks and change them to meet their needs. I also tried out Scribe’s free trial software, which was easy to activate and use. I do think the software trial could have pre-built demonstrations of integration to make it easier to get started. Its approach is especially nice for those who need to quickly get data into their spreadsheets for analysis. Our latest research into spreadsheets found that combining spreadsheets is time-consuming in more than half (56%) of organizations, mostly due to getting the data into the right shape for combining – a process Scribe Online can assist with.
Scribe provides a range of connectors to applications and systems, and a new Connector Development Kit that can help partners and customers extend the technology to meet a range of custom and specific application needs. Scribe has also announced a marketplace for partners that can be found embedded within the software to make it easy to use these connectors. I would like the company to highlight the marketplace outside of the software and on its website, as it is a significant part of Scribe’s value.
Scribe works well for marketing and sales teams that need to integrate marketing automation and sales force automation systems. Its software integrates with a broad spectrum of applications other data integration providers can’t manage, such as Exact Target, Silverpop, On24 and customer billing systems such as Intuit and FinancialForce. Scribe just announced support for Marketo, one of the fastest-growing marketing automation applications in cloud computing, which supports the demand and revenue generation needs of organizations, and for Xactly, which is used for sales compensation and incentives. It is expanding the number of connectors to applications through partners such as Datix, which resells Epicor.
I was impressed by the way Scribe’s offering makes data integration simpler for business while providing integration into applications for marketing, sales, customer services and accounting systems. Today, when organizations have systems dispersed across online environments that need data shared across applications or integrated into a unified environment for analytics, Scribe Online is a great step forward. Having software that can align business and IT is essential, as less than a fifth (19%) work together well for the information needs of an organization, according to our information management research. Scribe can provide significant value here, empowering business to do its own integration in a secured and governed manner. If it continues to expand its application connectivity to the providers that deliver value to the SMB market, it will have a great growth opportunity.
If you are looking to empower business to access and integrate data, take a look at Scribe Software and its latest Scribe Online release. It is pretty easy, and you should try it for yourself.
CEO & Chief Research Officer
This year’s Inspire, Alteryx’s annual user conference, featured new developments around the company’s analytics platform. Alteryx CEO Dean Stoecker kicked off the event by talking about the promise of big data, the dissemination of analytics throughout the organization, and the data artisan as the “new boss.” Alteryx coined the term “data artisan” to represent the persona at the center of the company’s development and marketing efforts. My colleague Mark Smith wrote about the rise of the data artisan in his analysis of last year’s event.
President and COO George Mathews keynoted day two, getting into more specifics on the upcoming 8.5 product release. Advancements revolve around improvement in the analytical design environment, embedded search capabilities, the addition of interactive mapping and direct model output into Tableau. The goal is to provide an easier, more intuitive user experience. Our benchmark research into next-generation business intelligence shows buyers consider usability the top buying criteria at 63 percent. The redesigned Alteryx interface boasts a new look for the icons and more standardization across different functional environments. Color coding of the toolbox groups tools according to functions, such as data preparation, analytics and reporting. A new favorites function is another good addition, given that users tend to rely on the same tools depending on their role within the analytics value chain. Users can now look at workflows horizontally and not just vertically, and easily change the orientation if for example they are working on an Apple iPad. Version 8.5 allows embedded search and more streamlined navigation, and continues its focus on a role-based application, which my colleague has been advocating for a while. According to the company, 94 percent of its user base demanded interactive mapping; that’s now part of the product, letting users draw a polygon around an area of interest, then integrate it into the analytical application for runtime execution.
The highlight of the talk was the announcement of integration with Tableau 8.0 and the ability to write directly to the software without having to follow the cumbersome process of exporting a file and then reopening it in another application. Alteryx was an alpha partner and worked directly with the code base for Tableau 8.0, which I wrote up a few months ago. The partnership exemplifies the coopetition environment that many companies find themselves in today. While Tableau does some basic prediction, and Alteryx does some basic visual reporting, the companies’ core competencies brought together into one workflow is much more powerful for the user. Another interesting aspect is the juxtaposition of the two user groups. The visually oriented Tableau group in San Diego seemed much younger and was certainly much louder on the reveals, while the analytically oriented Alteryx group was much more subdued.
Alteryx has been around since 1997, when it was called SRC. It grew up focused around location analytics, which allowed it to establish foundational analytic use cases in vertical areas such as real estate and retail. After changing the company name and focusing more on horizontal analytics, Alteryx is growing fast with backing from, interestingly enough, SAP Ventures. Since the company was already profitable, it used a modest infusion of capital to grow its product marketing and sales functions. The move seems to have paid off. Companies such as Dunkin Brands and Red Hat use Alteryx and the company has made significant inroads with marketing services companies. A number of consulting companies, such as Absolute Data and Capgemini, are using Alteryx for customer and marketing analytics and other use cases. I had an interesting talk with the CEO of a small but important services firm who said that he is being asked to introduce innovative analytical approaches to much larger marketing services and market research firms. He told me that Alteryx is a key part of the solution he’ll be introducing to enable things such as big data analytics.
Alteryx provides value in a few innovative ways that are not new to this release, but that are foundational to the company’s business strategy. First, it marries data integration with analytics, which allows business users who have traditionally worked in a flat-file environment to pull from multiple data sources and integrate information within the context of the Alteryx application. Within that same environment, users can build analytic workflows and publish applications to a private or public cloud. This approach helps address the obstacles found in our research in big data analytics where staffing (79%) and training (77%) are addressed by Alteryx through providing more flexibility for business to engage into the analytic process.
Alteryx manages an analytics application store called the Analytics Gallery that crowdsources and shares user-created models. These analytical assets can be used internally within an organization or sold on the broader market. Proprietary algorithms can be secured through a black box approach, or made open to allow other users to tweak the analytic code. It’s similar to what companies like Datameer are doing on top of Hadoop, or Informatica in the cloud integration market. The store gives descriptions of what the applications do, such as fuzzy matching or target marketing. Being crowdsourced, the number of applications should proliferate over time, tracking advancements in the R open source project, since R is at the heart of the Alteryx analytic strategy and what it calls clear box analytics. The underlying algorithm is easily viewed and edited based on permissions established by the data artisan, similar to what we’ve seen with companies such as 1010data. Alteryx 8.5 works with R 3.0, the latest version. On the back end, Alteryx partners with enterprise data warehouse powerhouses such as Teradata, and works with the Hortonworks Hadoop distribution.
I encourage analysts of all stripes to take a look at the Alteryx portfolio. Perhaps start with the Analytics Gallery to get a flavor of what the company does and the type of analytics customers are building and using today. Alteryx can benefit analysts looking to move beyond the limitations of a flat-file analytics environment, and especially marketing analysts who want to marry third-party data from sources such as the US Census Bureau, Experian, TomTom or Salesforce, which Alteryx offers within its product. If you have not seen Alteryx, you should take a look and see how they are changing the way analytic processes are designed and managed.
VP and Research Director