It has been suggested that business intelligence (BI) analysts may be wasting valuable time trying to clean and prepare raw data. Though this information can hold valuable insights when it is ready, the resources required to get the data into a usable form may outweigh the end results. Boosting efficiency is therefore key if companies are to get the best performance out of their information sets.
In a study by Xplenty, 200 BI professionals were questioned on their work concerning raw data and analysis tools. Almost one-third of the respondents said that between 50% and 90% of their time is spent trying to prepare and clean raw data; however, even though this is not always the most efficient use of resources, the ‘extract, transform and load’ (ETL) process remains a vital part of companies' analysis operations, with 97% of those questioned saying that conducting the ETL process is essential. More than half said they use ETL solutions on-premise, whilst 51% said moving to the cloud is under strong consideration.
Xplenty's chief executive and co-found, Yaniv Mor, explained: “While many organisations still rely heavily on existing on-premise IT for ETL, the desire to shift to a more cloud-based model has never been stronger. Cloud ETL offers a host of benefits over on-premise, from increased agility in resource deployment to reduced costs. As such, the cloud is an increasingly attractive option from both a performance and operational perspective.”
Xplenty also asked the BI professionals about the largest challenges they faced when it comes to preparing raw data. 55% said that integrating information from various platforms could be extremely difficult, whilst 39% said cleansing and formatting incoming data was a challenge; meanwhile, integrating non-relational and relational data was difficult for 32% of the respondents, whilst 21% said that simply handling the vast amount of data requiring management was hard. This shows that BI professionals have many difficulties to face in their day-to-day working lives.
Concerned that too much time is being lost to cleaning information, Mr Mor stated that it was in BI professionals' best interest to spend the majority of their time deciphering patters and evaluating data rather than preparing information for analytical tools. “The more time they spend making raw data analytics usable, the less time they have to generate real value from it. We have to accelerate big data’s ‘time-to-insight’, boosting efficiency and bringing more immediate answers to an organisation so that they can more quickly take advantage of them,” he explained.