With the rising emphasis on data-driven models and algorithms in business, large volumes of data are being generated—but rarely put to proper use. This is primarily due to challenges in understanding data, high costs involved in managing data, low quality and inaccurate data, data compliance issues, the need for complex systems to manage and cleanse data, and more.
What is data preparation?
Before the data collected across various channels in your organization can be put to use, it needs to be identified, extracted, and carefully prepared. Clean data is organized and error-free so that it can be fed to data warehouses and business applications.
Data preparation is the process of gathering, combining, structuring, and organizing data so it can be used in business intelligence (BI), data visualization and analytics tools, machine learning models, and more. Data preparation can be a tedious task involving data collection, discovery, profiling, cleansing, structuring, transforming, enriching, validating, and securely storing the data.
This process can be done with the help of an IT team to code custom ETL solutions. Organizations without dedicated IT departments could try manually cleansing data with Excel, or using advanced data preparation tools to simplify the data cleaning process and drastically reduce the data preparation time.
Importance of data preparation
The data in your organization can have duplicates, inaccurate and ambiguous data, unstructured data, hidden data, inconsistent, and missing data. Data preparation is a process that ensures your data is accurate and ready to be analyzed for accurate insights.
Here are the top four reasons to implement data preparation in your organization:
1. Have easily accessible data: Well-prepped data is readily accessible to users and helps create a data-driven culture in organizations.
2. Improve data quality for accurate insights: High-quality data helps you avoid incorrect analysis and derive data-driven insights.
3. Save cost: Poor data quality reflects in making business decisions and increases cost. Data preparation helps you get the right insights the first time and therefore saves costs to the company.
4. Save time: Automation of data preparation techniques allows users to focus on their main task rather than spending hours cleaning up data.
According to a report by Gartner, poor quality data costs a business an average of $13.5 million every year. Also, in the 2020 Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study, Dresner Advisory Services says that BI users mentioned data preparation as one of the top technologies and initiatives for their BI deployments. Automated data preparation is also predicted to be used in more than 70% of new data integration initiatives for analytics and data science by 2022.
Challenges in data preparation
The first challenge that comes to mind when we think of data preparation is its tedious and time-consuming nature. You are definitely not alone as many data scientists and professionals agree that mistakes happen right at the beginning when data is collected from various data sources. Also, 57% of them feel that data preparation is the least enjoyable task, given its complexity.
Here are a few other common challenges faced during data preparation:
Collection of data from various sources
The complexity involved in data preparation
Storage and accessibility of prepared data
Lack of technical knowledge or manpower to prepare data
- Difficulty handling personal data
Zoho DataPrep in data preparation
Data preparation maybe touted as a tedious task, but it can be made simple with advanced self-service data preparation tools like Zoho DataPrep. Zoho DataPrep is a data preparation tool that helps connect, explore, transform, and enrich data for analytics, machine learning, migration, and data warehousing. With zero deployment efforts and no coding expertise, you can overcome all the challenges of data preparation. Zoho DataPrep was built with the sole purpose of fixing the challenges faced by data scientists, analysts, and business users.
Here are a few ways Zoho DataPrep makes data preparation simple:
- You can connect to 50+ data sources and destinations including files, feeds, cloud storage, databases, warehouses, and business applications such as Zoho Analytics, Zoho CRM, and more.
- Zoho DataPrep auto-suggests transformations based on your data and helps you perform smart cleanup of your data using intelligent suggestions.
- Zoho DataPrep offers AI-based enrichment like sentiment analysis, language detection, keyword extraction, and over 250 transformations to enrich your data.
- Automating mundane tasks is the quickest way to reduce time with data preparation. You can schedule data preparation workflows and receive alerts.
- Data cataloging helps with data management and data discovery based on the usage of data assets, their status, and associated meta-information.
- Fine-grained permissions, privacy management, and secure handling of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), you can securely share data across your organization.
If you are facing challenges with preparing messy data, Zoho DataPrep may interest you in automating the data preparation process. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.