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Choosing the Right Data Preparation Software for Your Organization

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Data Prep Software

By Earl Sires

Without clean, organized data, there’s no way to know where your organization stands or to strategize for the future. Good data opens the door to better decision making and higher productivity, while poor-quality data leads to missed opportunities and lost revenue. Data can support your intuition or challenge it, but if the data is not properly prepared, it’s not reliable. 

Data preparation is the process of combining information from databases, spreadsheets, and other documents, then cleansing the data by correcting errors, filling in empty cells, and merging it all into one comprehensive file. This step in the process of putting your data to work is a critical one, but the number of data preparation software options is overwhelming. Sorting between the various features and prices of each can feel like a major task

With that in mind, we’ve assembled this simple guide to the 5 best data preparation software solutions on the market today. We’ll highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each product, as well as the price point, to help you refine your choices.

Rapid Insight Construct

Data Prep Features: 

A visual drag-and-drop workspace makes organizing data in all formats easy for users of any skill level. Free, unlimited training and support with a team of data analysts makes resolving issues or evaluating workflows easy. Fast, repeatable “data jobs” save your work so that new data can simply be dropped into an existing process. The workspace does not require any coding skills to use, but advanced users can further customize jobs with scripts.

Drawbacks:

Construct’s nodes are easy to understand, but some users need extra time to learn to work with the Transform node, which is more advanced than the rest. Data visualization features are lacking slightly, but the software can write directly to Tableau to create advanced visualizations.

Price:

  • $4,000 per user, per year
  • $2,500 for automated scheduling add-on

Working at Laptop

Alteryx Designer Data Preparation Software

Data Prep Features: 

Designer offers a wide range of data prep tools with a comprehensive user interface. The reporting features are a strong suit, and geographic visualizations are a key selling point. Designer also has built-in predictive and spatial analytics capabilities.

Drawbacks:

Designer has a steep learning curve, which makes initial interactions with the product imposing. The training period is lengthy. It offers a wide range of data processing nodes, but each is constrained and limited in what it can do in comparison to competitors. There are several add-on features available, but at an additional cost. For example, automated scheduling is an additional  

Price:

  • $5,195 per user, per year
  • $6,500 for automated scheduling add-on

Trifacta Data Wrangler (Pro)

Data Prep Features: 

Trifacta’s Wrangler data preparation software features a drag-and-drop, node-based interface. The software is semi-automated, offering suggestions on how to proceed with a data prep process. Wrangler is a cloud-based platform, so no downloads or installations are required.

Drawbacks:

While there is a free version of the software, its capabilities are very limited. You’re able to clean the data by performing a few basic operations on it, but you’ll need to pay to do any more than that. The customization options leave something to be desired, as the software does not allow you to move nodes within the workspace. The workspace is not as clean and clear as competitors like Rapid Insight and can be confusing to use. Wrangler does not include reporting features.

Price:

$5,028 per user, per year

Data Prep Computer

 

SAS Data Preparation Software

Data Prep Features: 

SAS has been on the market since the 1960s, so some users will have prior experience with SAS products and will be able to learn to use additional SAS tools like Data Preparation fairly quickly. Their support center can assist with any trouble that arises during use. SAS integrates code more directly than some competitors, which is a strong suit for some users.

Drawbacks:

For users without prior SAS knowledge, the user interface for SAS Data Preparation takes a significant amount of time to learn. This restricts its usability in many organizations. Unlike products with a visual interface, SAS is not intuitive and easy to follow for users without technical knowledge. The SAS platform has many tools bundled in various suites, so you are likely to be paying for tools you don’t plan to use.

Price:

Not available – must request pricing from a sales agent

Paxata

Data Prep Features: 

Much like Wrangler, Paxata offers automated suggestions on how to build your data cleaning process. It’s a relatively easy-to-learn platform for those familiar with spreadsheet software like Excel. It does especially well when processing large data sets, and it includes governance features in its sharing capabilities.

Drawbacks:

Unlike many comparable products, Paxata’s interface is not a visual, drag-and-drop workspace. It has a spreadsheet-like layout, which will be comfortable for some and a challenge for others. It has no reporting features, and it does not allow advanced users to use scripts or code to get further functionality from the software.

Price: 

$4,320 per user, per year


Ultimately, the data prep solution you choose to go with depends on what your goals and capabilities are. If you have extensive data analysis training and you’re looking to do advanced geospatial modeling, Alteryx may be the choice for you. If you have coding ability and are already familiar with the SAS environment, SAS Data Preparation may be worth looking into. And if you’re a spreadsheet lover, Paxata could be the right choice.

But if you’re looking for a powerful, accessible data prep solution that has advanced functionality, comes with excellent one-on-one training and support, and is more affordable than the competition, Rapid Insight is for you. Click the link below the post for a demo!

 

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