Business Intelligence Buyer's Guide

#DataFools: Data Prep No Longer Has to Be a Cruel Joke

Data Fools

By Dan Potter,  CMO at Datawatch

Understanding data trends for efficient corporate management is no laughing matter. Business users report that they typically spend up to 80 percent of their time manually preparing data for analysis – copying and pasting their way through a special kind of data prep abyss that makes every day feel like April Fools’ Day. Like a cruel joke, they know that the data providing the most analytical value is frequently locked away in multi-structured, semi-structured or unstructured documents – PDFs, XML, JSON, HTML, text, spool and ASCII files – and it is nearly impossible to use this information without having to painstakingly re-key hundreds of data points.

To make matters worse, it is estimated that only 12 percent of enterprise data generated today is used to make corporate decisions. In many instances, an organization’s source data is diverse and rarely presents itself in a form that is accessible or in the right format needed for analytical processing and operational management. Data access limitations can also fool users into thinking they have captured the whole story when, in fact, they are only able to analyze what IT and management has authorized them to see. Then, when their analysis doesn’t tell the whole story and drives them to the wrong conclusion, the joke is on them.

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Making timely and informed decisions that deliver business value requires not only the right data but also all of the data. So how can users avoid becoming the butt of a bad data prep joke? They can start by incorporating a self-service data prep tool as part of their analytics and operational use strategy – one that allows them to quickly and easily acquire structured, multi-structured, unstructured and streaming data. From there they will be able to blend, manipulate and prep this otherwise unworkable data into high-value information that tells the complete corporate story.

The business challenges that prompt the need for self-service data prep are numerous. Whether it is improving credit card reconciliation, auditing processes or enhancing the use of Microsoft Excel, to maintaining compliance initiatives or increasing efficiency with analytical and visualization tools such as Tableau, IBM Watson Analytics, IBM Cognos Analytics or Qlik; the bottom line is always the same: time is money. When users can become more efficient by spending less time gathering data and more time analyzing it, they will be free to uncover patterns, trends, deficiencies and even risks that could lead to measurable change within their organization and result in competition-beating and bottom line-boosting strategies.

And that’s no joke.

Dan PotterDan Potter is Chief Marketing Officer at Datawatch Corporation. Before Datawatch, Dan held senior roles at IBM, Oracle, Progress and Attunity where he was responsible for identifying and launching solutions across a variety of markets including Data Analytics, cloud computing, real-time data streaming, federated data and e-commerce. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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