Preparing data for analysis

You may need to do some initial, preparatory work on the data that you intend to analyze. In some cases, you can start analyzing data as soon as you have imported it. But often you need to perform one or more preparatory tasks in order to:

  • shape the data set that you will ultimately analyze
  • ensure that the results are reliable

Think of preparation as the foundation upon which your analysis will be built. A good foundation is critical to effective, reliable results.

Common preparation tasks

Here are some of the more common preparation tasks:

  • convert convert the data type of fields so that they can be used as input for specific Analytics commands, or harmonize with other fields
  • clean and standardize clean and standardize input data so that output results are reliable
  • combine combine data from multiple tables
  • sample draw a sample of records because you may not have the time or the budget to examine every record in a data set

Any of these tasks could be an absolutely necessary first step before you perform your intended analysis.

Verifying data

In addition to preparing data, you should also verify the completeness and validity of any data that you are going to analyze. Even a small amount of invalid data can invalidate all your subsequent analysis, and waste valuable time and resources.