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What is Data Preparation and Why Does it Take So Long?

Do you spend most of your day preparing data for analysis? Does it make you want to pull your hair out?

If you dread this laborious work, you’re not alone. In one survey, 76% of data scientists cited data preparation as the least enjoyable part of their work.

That’s no surprise when you consider that data loading and cleansing still account for nearly half of data scientists’ time

What is Data Preparation? 

Gartner defines Data Preparation as, “an iterative-agile process for exploring, combining, cleaning and transforming raw data into curated datasets for self-service data integration, data science, data discovery, and BI/analytics.” 

In other words, it’s about getting data ready to be analyzed or leveraged to provide business value to the organization. 

But why does it take so long? Well for starters, it’s a lengthy process comprised of a number of steps. But these are a few specific things that can slow it to a snail’s pace:

  • Inconsistent Data: Data is commonly created with missing values, inaccuracies or other errors that need to be corrected to avoid incorrect analysis or insights. There is an emerging discipline that brings unstructured and structured data together to fill data gaps, but many organizations don’t have the necessary breadth of understanding to leverage their information in this way. 
  • Irregular File Formats: Separate data sets often have different formats that need to be reconciled to be made accessible for business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools.
  • Inaccessible Data: You may not even have access to the data you need. This may require obtaining the appropriate permissions and communicating across departments. 

These can all cause delays and frustration. And yet, the data preparation process has enormous benefits. If done thoroughly and effectively, it can:

  • Produce reliable results and insights
  • Identity and fix data issues that otherwise might not be detected
  • Enable executives and workers to make better business decisions
  • Realize a higher ROI from BI and analytics initiatives.

So how can you reduce time spent on data preparation while still completing the process effectively and thoroughly?

Today, this is no longer a pipe dream. In fact, with a distinct approach and the right tools, you can move projects forward and generate real business value for your organization without compromising data quality. 

It starts with mapping and connecting your data across the organization so you can prepare data quicker and maintain high-quality standards.

Shinydocs Cognitive Suite does this all without the need for costly and risky migrations or changing workflows. After it connects all of your data, you can then identify what’s worth keeping and determine what can be disposed of safely. Not only will this benefit you and your team, but your entire organization will also benefit as well (it’s always nice to help you and the company, right?)

Learn more about Cognitive Suite and how it can speed up your data preparation process. 

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