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Six Signs You Need Self-Service Data Prep

Do your month-end closing activities feel like they take a year to complete? Do you wish your annual reports were like the Olympics and only came around every four years?  Do you find yourself suddenly in need of a “sick day” when forecasting time rolls around?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be in the ranks of individuals who could use a self-service data prep solution. Often, one of the pain points in mastering routine reports is the sheer time and resources they take to complete – no doubt due to the volume of data itself. Whether it’s reconciliation or quality assurance activities, many could use a helping hand when it comes to ongoing data preparation.

If you suffer from any of the problems below, it may be time to consider a self-service data prep solution for your business.

  1. You spend more time gathering data than you do analyzing it.
    Recently, the role of data scientist was dubbed the best job in America by Glassdoor. That distinction was based in part on the number of job openings, salary and career opportunities associated with the position. While those in the role may have inherited bragging rights for having the hottest job around, the sad fact is that 76% of them also view data preparation as the least enjoyable part of their work according to the 2016 Data Science Report released by Crowdflower. That’s a tough pill to swallow considering the same survey revealed that data preparation accounts for 80% of the work they do. Who’s bragging now?
  1. By the time you’ve gathered data from a variety of sources and file types, it’s outdated.
    Imagine if the National Weather Service relied on outdated data to make future predictions? If they wouldn’t, why should your business? By using a data prep tool, you can connect to all major databases and automatically extract data from multi-structured sources and web pages. That saves you time and embarrassment as your decisions will be based on accurate and timely data.
  1. Manual rekeying of data results in a high frequency of errors.
    First of all, you should never be rekeying data. Not only could you be entering incorrect information, that data may be used to make erroneous business decisions which could negatively impact your organization’s bottom line. With a data prep tool, manual rekeying of data is eliminated and you can gather information from a wide variety of sources, consolidate and append diverse data with ease and provide transparency and auditability.
  1. Your IT/report-writing staff hide when they see you coming.
    If you feel like your IT colleagues are avoiding your calls – or even your glances – they may be. Too often, the onus of data gathering and prepping falls into the hands of high-tech staff. Self-service data prep tools provide agility to business users without the need for IT intervention. In addition, automation processes ensure every step of the data preparation process is captured in reusable and human-readable work-spaces that can be executed automatically going forward.
  1. You cross your fingers during audits and hope for a low human error turnout.
    Crossing your fingers and hoping for the best shouldn’t be your go-to strategy when finalizing and sending out reports that rely on accurate data. You must have confidence in your data, how it is being used and how it is being distributed. Consider the recent case where more than 5,000 applicants to the State University of New York at Buffalo were prematurely told they had been accepted into the college. Turns out, final decisions had not been made, yet students received congratulatory letters due to a mistake that was made when an incorrect email list was generated from a database of applicants. Data prep tools allow for report reconciliation which, in turn, significantly reduce processing time and eliminate rekeying error risk.
  2. The cost of a data prep solution is less than the combined salaries of the team you’d need to hire to manage your data prep.
    Recently, Blue Hill Research suggested an annual cost assigned to just data prep activities to be approximately $220,000 for 10 analysts. That figure does not include the cost of actual analysis. Instead of having to go outside of your budget, consider empowering your current workforce to use existing data to make informed decisions. In a recent interview conducted with our nation’s first data scientist, DJ Patil, one of the biggest challenges facing the data industry is the lack of individuals who actually use data. Patil states, “Empowering people with data in their daily lives gets people to be in better control of their destiny.” Data preparation software tools help empower regular business users within your workforce, thereby cutting down on new salary expenditures and giving more power to the people.