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Cleaning and Preprocessing Data to Prepare it for Analysis Featured

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Data preparation is an essential step in the data analysis process. It involves cleaning and organizing data to make it ready for analysis and visualization. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of data preparation in the cloud, the steps involved in the data preparation process, and the tools and technologies available to help with data preparation.

What is data preparation?

Data preparation is the process of cleaning and organizing data to make it ready for analysis and visualization. This involves tasks such as removing missing or incorrect values, standardizing data formats and units, and transforming data to make it more useful for analysis.

Benefits of data preparation in the cloud

One of the key benefits of data preparation in the cloud is that it allows for easy collaboration and sharing of data. Instead of sending large data files back and forth, teams can work on the same data set in the cloud, with each member able to access and update the data in real-time.

Another benefit of data preparation in the cloud is that it allows for scalable and flexible data storage and processing. Instead of investing in expensive on-premises infrastructure, teams can use the cloud to store and process large and complex data sets without worrying about capacity or performance.

Data preparation steps

The data preparation process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Data collection: The first step in data preparation is collecting the data that will be used for analysis. This can involve extracting data from multiple sources, such as databases, files, and web APIs.
  2. Data cleaning: The next step is cleaning the data to remove any missing or incorrect values and standardizing data formats and units. This can involve tasks such as removing duplicates, filling in missing values, and correcting data errors.
  3. Data transformation: After the data has been cleaned, it may need to be transformed to make it more useful for analysis. This can involve creating new columns or derived variables, pivoting or unpivoting data, and aggregating data to create summary statistics.
  4. Data validation: Before the data is ready for analysis, it should be validated to ensure that it is accurate and consistent. This can involve checking for common errors, such as outliers or inconsistencies, and verifying that the data meets the requirements of the analysis.

Self-service data preparation tools

One of the key trends in data preparation is the availability of self-service tools that allow non-technical users to perform data preparation tasks without requiring specialized programming skills. These tools typically provide an intuitive user interface and a range of pre-built functions and transformations that can be applied to data.

Some popular self-service data preparation tools include Alteryx, Trifacta, and Datawatch. These tools provide a range of features, such as data blending and cleansing, data enrichment, and data governance, to help teams prepare data for analysis.

The future of data preparation

As data becomes increasingly complex and diverse, the need for effective data preparation will only continue to grow. In the future, we can expect more advanced tools and technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, that make data preparation faster and easier.

These technologies can help automate some of the more time-consuming and tedious tasks in data preparation, such as data cleaning and validation. They can also provide insights and suggestions to help users make more informed decisions about how to prepare their data for analysis.

Getting started with data preparation

If you are new to data preparation, there are a few key steps you can take to get started. You need to identify the data sources, extract and import data, clean and transform the data, validate data, use self-service tools and implement data governance for the quality and integrity of data.

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for Big Data & Analytics Tech Brief

scottkoegler.me/

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