Data Preparation: A Critical First Step
Data is an essential asset of all organizations. Its use impacts every aspect of a business, not least of all its profitability. Today’s data comes from an array of often incompatible sources, including disparate in-house systems, cloud-based environments and unstructured sources such as websites and social media. In addition, the definition of data is expanding to encompass new forms such as images and text in documents, creating new challenges. Moreover, all this data is today accumulating so rapidly and in such large volumes and varied formats that technologists – and increasingly business people – commonly refer to it as big data.
To be useful, data, whatever its source and however much of it there is, must be placed in the format most suitable for each task and most useful to the people responsible for it. The advent of big data intensifies this challenge. Data from all relevant sources must be standardized before it can be used effectively.