As a set of activities designed to transform data into insight, the definition of business analytics has evolved and expanded. A March 2016 Aberdeen report looks at the impact of Best-in-Class data preparation. In this context, data preparation refers to any activity designed to improve quality, usability, accessibility or portability of data and includes, but is not limited to data integration, data profiling, data cleansing and data governance.
A New Generation of Data Mavens
Activity separates traditional business intelligence (BI) from today’s analytics. BI has always been a static entity (reporting, dashboards and visualisation) whereas analytics is a process, with more users today being active in the data-facing side of this analytical process.
Every company has a finite number of IT resources to help improve the data environment and empower better analytics, and Aberdeen’s research shows the top data challenges for organisations (see Figure 1).
Fuelling the Analytical Engine
The quality and usability of data used in analytics directly affects the veracity of the insight that emerges the other side. As seen in Figure 2 below, top performance in data preparation is not only defined by a company’s ability to improve data accuracy and quality, but also to reduce the time spent preparing data for analysis.
Key Success Factors
Best-in-Class companies are more likely to formalise efforts to train and develop in-house analytical skills, and put the right types of complementary technology in place to leverage data (see Figure 3).
Furthermore, Best-in-Class companies are more likely to combine interactive visualisation and predictive analytics technology with its data preparation activities, and exploit a wide variety of data (see Figure 4 below).
Figure 4 reveals that it is more probable for Best-in-Class companies to use external data more frequently and leverage less traditional formats like text-based unstructured data, or machine-generated sensor data from the Internet of Things (IoT).
Data preparation has become a focus area for companies looking to become more analytically-driven. The following key takeaways draw out the most important research findings related to data preparation:
- Data prep isn’t just for pros – more marketing managers, sales directors, and financial decision makers are taking an active role in improving data quality
- Effective analytics relies heavily on data prep – Best-in-Class companies are focused on using technologies aimed at improving quality and timeliness of data in order to boost its analytics
- Top companies exploit an assortment of data
Aberdeen Group has been an international research partner of Nebula since 2010. With thousands of research documents, growing daily, Aberdeen’s research library helps enterprises and service providers discover the priorities and strategies of best-in-class enterprises.
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