Choosing the right data aggregation tools for the job
We call the gathering of data from multiple databases, ‘data aggregation.’ Data is gathered to be combined into a comprehensive summary for the data analysis process. Typically, you’ll be aggregating data in order to process that data together. Data aggregation by hand can be time consuming and draining, so most analysts rely on data aggregation tools. Data aggregation tools are used to combine data from multiple sources into one place, in order to derive new insights and discover new relationships and patterns—ideally without losing track of the source data and its lineage. But choosing from the growing list of data aggregation tools is a challenge for even the most motivated decision-maker. Here are a few things to keep in mind:What is data aggregation and how are data aggregation tools useful?
When is it time to do data aggregation?
Data aggregation tools allow you to look beyond the two dimensionality of a row and column tool like Excel. For example, you can apply calculations across categories, and then use the resulting high-level summary information to present overall statistics. You might want to use data aggregation tools to bring together data from your sales regions, product categories and customer trouble tickets, all by time. It’s time for aggregating data when you need to look beyond a typical data layout and begin using the data.
Data Aggregation Examples by Industry
Most industries work heavily with data, so most industries also use data aggregation in some form. Here is how these tools are being used within several industries:
- Financial industry. Financial analysts are constantly focusing on staying up-to-date on industry and company trends. These firms can use aggregation tools to gather headlines or even article copy to find the current trends that could affect their business. Tools save them time trying to gather data from all across the internet and help them focus on making crucial financial decisions instead.
- Healthcare industry. It’s crucial to monitor healthcare developments and trends to create innovative developments and correctly diagnose patients with the best information. They can use data aggregation to help maintain transparency and trust between the healthcare industry and patients.
- Marketing industry. Marketing professionals need these aggregation tools to gather market trends to be able to determine current needs for their businesses. Businesses also need to see how campaigns are performing, and these tools help the marketing teams determine how their campaigns are working with the customers.
- Retail industry. One of the most effective ways retails businesses can use these aggregation tools is with price monitoring. The analysts can determine whether or not their prices are competitive within the industry and make adjustments if necessary.
Must Haves In Data Aggregation—It Depends on You
Like a lot of software, data aggregation tools rarely have all the best features you want in one package so it’s important to evaluate your own needs carefully before picking a provider. That way you’ll get the best features for you and your company’s unique needs, such as financial services reconciliation or electronic healthcare records. Some tools are extremely technical and others can be used by anybody. Some work with the cloud and others don’t. Knowing what you’re looking for can help you find the right tool for your business.
For example, a nursing home might only need to combine a few sources of data for something like a population roster or a point of care integration report, but a major research hospital or health insurance company will need powerful predictive modeling and forecasting features. Talk to your counterparts at similar institutions to see what they’re using, or see what is discussed at your next conference, or in internet discussion groups in your field.
Using Designer Cloud’s Data Aggregation Tools
Alteryx Designer Cloud was designed from the ground up to help reduce data cleaning and data preparation time for data mining and predictive analytics by enabling better assessment of data sources, offering smart extraction that learns preferences over time, and providing easy to use, intelligent, interactive, visual data analysis that improves data understanding for your entire organization. Data aggregation tools built into Designer Cloud, include:
Roll-up or summary tools, which calculate summaries and report only those. This reduces the overall size of your dataset and makes it easier to share with others in the organization who can leverage it for their own insights.
Intermediate calculation tools, which allow you to calculate a value based on an aggregation and include that value in the dataset. For example, an analyst might use aggregation to determine the average cost of a transaction and then use that value to calculate the deviation between individual transactions and the average cost. These tools can be used to determine performance. The idea is to add the value to the existing dataset, instead of reducing the size of the data file, which is the purpose of the roll up tool.
See for yourself how Designer Cloud can help with your data aggregation needs – sign up for a free 30 day trial.