Six Data Preparation Tasks You Thought Only Programmers Could Handle

Bob Selfridge | 3/3/2021

Topics: Featured Article, Data Analysis, Data Preparation, Minitab Connect

We know all too well that manually converting thousands, let alone millions, of rows of data into actionable insights is no walk in the park. For many analysts, making sense of raw data can take hours of manipulating, cleaning, and prepping in Excel spreadsheets using pivot tables, transformations, and VLOOKUPS – especially if they’re less familiar with technical coding languages. Not to mention that manual data prep leaves more room for errors. Ultimately, the hours of labor and risks to data quality are why many lean on developers and IT partners to handle their data prep using SQL or an advanced database coding system.

But in this day and age, shouldn’t data users of all technical skill levels have the capability to easily reformat data sets, rename data fields, filter out content, or compute functions without having to rely on outside teams for help? We think so, and it’s why we developed the self-service tools in Minitab ConnectTM, to help any user shape, enrich, contextualize, and explore their data for analysis. If you thought you needed years of coding experience, your own programmer sidekick, or a thousand more hours in your workweek to take control of your data prep, read on to explore the tasks Connect can help you conquer:


1. Cleanup, create, and save multiple views quickly

Customization is Minitab Connect’s middle name. The tool’s easy-to-operate commands allow you to quickly rearrange, rename, filter, compute functions, add and remove columns, blend datasets, and more, so that you can view and showcase data in the way you see fit. Even better, “views” allow you to save your preferences to apply for later use and implement even quicker data cleanup in future datasets.

Data Preparation Tool in Minitab Connect


2. Easily and confidently interact with large quantities of data

The sheer volume and variety of data so many organizations capture can make data prep incredibly overwhelming for any user. Fortunately, Minitab Connect utilizes an easy point-and-click interface ensuring full access and visualization of datasets. Whether managing hundreds or tens of millions of rows of data, users can filter, clean, or format content and watch their dataset refresh in the process, with the confidence that data quality has been preserved. Because all data is stored within the platform, users can also confidently transform rows and columns without the risk of applying permanent changes to the underlying catalog of data. As a result, there’s always an option to revert to the original, un-prepped view of data, or just toggle back and forth to previous views.

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3. Quickly add a new data source to your analysis

Part of Minitab Connect’s power comes from its data integration capabilities. Together, the Connect tools combine to allow easy access to additional data sources, so you have the freedom to dive deeper into your analysis without having to bother IT for a data integration request first. [See a sample of our pre-built connectors and data integrations]


4. Get answers to “one-off” analysis questions or data lookups quickly

Need to know how many widgets one of your machines produced during the third shift, or details about the line productivity over the past three years? Minitab Connect allows you to explore data outside of your regular reporting, and immediately investigate specific questions or data entries with search and filtering functionalities, no matter the size of the dataset.


5. Prep data with sophisticated functionalities fluent in SQL

While you don’t need to know technical coding languages to take full advantage of Minitab Connect, the platform is fluent and compatible with SQL coding language — along with PHP, Python, and Perl — and has a wide range of advanced data preparation functionalities. As users make adjustments to their data, Connect simultaneously maintains “magic” codes with accurate syntax, great for use as reference and for more technical users.


6. Collaborate and share during data prep

Who says data work is isolating? With the notes and documentation functionality, users can increase collaboration by adding details about the transformations they’ve applied to the prepped data and have conversations within the platform. Increased communication helps avoid the redundancies of multiple analysts doing the same preps on the same data. Further, Minitab Connect can keep roles clear with permissioned data views limited to certain user-defined groups and hierarchies.

And just like that, no more bugging IT or drowning in data prep. Instead, Minitab Connect puts the power of your data back in your hands.

Interested in learning how Minitab Connect could help with your data needs?
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