As businesses grow, data analytics and data integration take on more significance to provide meaningful insights and the ability to monitor performance across the enterprise. Powerful data analytics solutions are needed to manage data, and that requires an accessible, practical, yet sophisticated approach to data integration.
But business analysts are often disappointed when they discover the ETL tools they’ve purchased don’t always suit their needs. On the one hand, incumbent ETL tools—those provided by the big, well-known brands like IBM and Microsoft—are often cumbersome, as they rely on batch processing, which can be hard to work with for cross-platform data sources. And incumbent solutions aren’t a good choice for streaming data sources, which are becoming more popular.
As an alternative to incumbent tools, businesses might also choose open source ETL solutions, but they are often short on features.
For many growing businesses, the best choices are of the modern ETL tools that provide the features and functionality most fitting to the needs of their organization. Modern ETL tools are more conducive to the environment of ambitious businesses seeking the most efficient route to getting meaningful insights and actionable metrics to users across the enterprise.
ClicData’s data warehousing and dashboard solution is a sophisticated data warehousing engine with intelligent and easy-to-master interfaces for BI analysts to provide the answers that users seek. Analysts can spend less time on massaging the data and more time making sense of it. Relevant ETL features are prominent and easily-accessed.
Step One: Comprehensive Connectivity
For most organizations just getting started with data analytics, their spreadsheets, applications, and databases are spread throughout the organization, on desktops, on servers, in the cloud. ClicData’s BI solution begins by making it easy for analysts to connect hundreds of applications, databases, and file types using intuitive Smart Connectors, no matter where the data lives.
- Connect files and spreadsheets like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, OneDrive Business, FTP, Google Sheets, Amazon S3, and more.
- Connect business applications like SalesForce, Basecamp, Smartsheet, QuickBooks, FreshBooks, InfusionSoft, and more.
- Connect data from the web and social platforms like Google Analytics, Twitter, Facebook, Bing Ads, Google Adwords, Instagram, and more.
- Connect big data on MongoDB, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, Oracle, Access, MySQL, Amazon Aurora, and more.
ClicData’s solution is built to handle tremendously complex databases and to consolidate data from numerous platforms into an intelligent, secure data warehouse.
Step Two: Easy-To-Love ETL
Preparing, merging, cleaning, transforming, and consolidating data to answer the requests of internal clients can be the most laborious step of business intelligence efforts and can take up the bulk of a BI analyst’s time.
But it is essential. Data that acts as a unified whole, but that is not clean, uniform, and usable will produce unreliable and inaccurate results and can cause errors in judgment from those accessing the outcomes of its calculations.
With click-and-drag simplicity, ClicData features help analysts establish uniformity and consistency across the scope of their data warehouse with a selection of transformations, normalization, merge, data history management options, and more.
Clean (standardize) data
Why is clean data so critical to a business’ operations? In short, it’s because data that you can’t trust is data that has no value. If your business has been collecting data using a variety of methods using a variety of file formats, as most businesses have been, then it will be rife with inconsistencies.
Most businesses have typically collected their data department by department, using the processes, file formats, and even data naming conventions that are most meaningful and convenient for them. But when it comes time to consolidate the data enterprise-wide in order to give executives and managers the insights that the larger data pool provides, there will inevitably be significant occurrences of data inconsistency and data redundancy which will compromise data integrity and usefulness for the company.
Data inconsistencies occur when information is kept in different formats in different files, or when different or conflicting versions of the same data appear in different places. For example, both a sales department and the accounting department might capture the name and address of a customer, but one noted their zip code and the other didn’t. Or perhaps three different data sources each captured a different abbreviation for United Kingdom: ‘UK,’’ U.K.’ and ‘uk’. For all data to work together, everything would need to be converted to one uniform naming convention, such as “United Kingdom.”
If a duplicate representation of the same information, or data redundancy, occurs when one of them is updated, any efforts to access the other version will be fed outdated information.
Businesses simply have to ensure that their data is clean before it is analyzed, reported on, and the subject of calculations and delivery of metrics.
ClicData’s Normalize feature cleans up empty fields and ensures that all text data is in the right case and has no extra spaces, and that all dates are within a meaningful timeframe (not 1845, for example.)
ClicData’s Standardize feature ensures that different values that are meant to hold the same meaning are made uniform. For example “U.S.A.”, “US”, and “USA” can all be automatically changed to “United States”.
Merge and combine data
Merge and combine features allow users to view data from multiple data sources as if they lived in a single dataset. They can ask cause-and-effect questions, compare actual versus target numbers, and more.
Once ClicData’s Merge feature is used, the data merges remain in play for that dataset as long as needed. When the original data sources are refreshed, the data merge will refresh as well.
Transforming data is what turns volumes of data into meaningful information and metrics for the users. ClicData provides a number of sophisticated data transformation tools that are as simple to use as click-and-drag.
Analysts can implement familiar functions and formulas, and use Transact-SQL operations, to transform the data as needed, right within the ClicData software. They won’t need to create any formulas on raw data source anymore. They only have to build the transformation once. After that, ClicData will apply the transformation every time data is imported.
- Add calculated columns
- Add aggregated columns
- Group columns and aggregates
- Add layered filtering conditions
- Pivot and unpivot data
- Find and replace text and numeric values
- Update datasets
ETL doesn’t have to be hard
Easy-to-use, intuitive, and fast, doesn’t have to be at the expense of sophistication. Using a SQL engine, ClicData tools allow BI analysts to transform their data to provide the calculations and insights their users seek, without affecting the source data.
ClicData believes that most dashboarding tools are more unwieldy and complex than they need to be. Our solutions enable complex analysis of complex data with a human-friendly functionality and easy-to-learn features that get the job done. Check out our ETL features and try them now for free.