Though never a simple task, the field of data preparation has come a long way from the laborious cleansing, profiling, and fumbling with tables of 10 or 12 years ago. It took a mix of savvy information workers and maturing vendor tools to arrive at a marketplace that is now more stratified than it is consolidated, making it a good time to review and perhaps extend organizational resources for data prep.
Dresner Advisory Services defines data preparation as “a capability for a variety of users—both business and IT—to model, prepare, and combine data prior to analysis.”
That “variety of users” also defines the high/low mix of tools in today’s evolved and maturing data-preparation marketplace. Established and skillfully developed by a strong core of pure-play vendors, that marketplace now adds large providers of unified “analytical platforms” that roll up self-service data prep, integration, and workflows along with, by degrees, more modern business intelligence (BI) requirements: analytics, AI, cloud, self-service, governance, and perhaps even more (see the Dresner Advisory Services “Wisdom of Crowds® Analytical Platforms 2021” Market Report).
Our latest study finds data preparation is a ubiquitous activity in which the needs of the non-advanced user involve frequent use of mostly simple, often repetitive tasks and manipulations, such as the ability to combine, detect outliers, and so on. As is often the case, the 80/20 rule will apply to organizations that will find unified single platform data preparation tools adequate for empowering large populations of self-served information workers, though not advanced enough for technical teams or esoteric data environments. This is where pure-play solutions will hold their ground with more coding options, advanced features, extensibility, and interoperability across data types and across multiple platforms. Pure-play vendors also extend to areas like process automation and collaboration specifically for the benefit of technical users.
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