How An ETL Tool Can Help Your OrganizationReading time: 5 minutes
Whatever work your organization does, it likely involves some kind of data or record keeping. Financial records, growth metrics, churn measurements… all of this is data that can be put to a more productive use than satisfying an occasional audit or filling up a hard drive. The key to truly useful data lies in organizing and applying it correctly. And to perform that organization and application, you need an ETL tool.
ETL stands for “Extract, Transform, Load.” These three steps comprise the process you need to follow in order to prepare your data for reporting, predictive modeling, warehousing, or long-term storage.
In this post, we’ll review each step in the ETL process, discuss the benefits an ETL tool can bring to your organization, and explain why Rapid Insight is the best ETL tool available.
The first step in ETL (the “E”) is Extract. This means accessing your data, wherever it lives, before compiling it in one organized location.
If you think about it, you likely have different data stored in different formats, such as spreadsheets, text files, and in databases. This data may also be stored in different locations: some could be on a server, while other data might live on a specific computer’s hard drive or an external hard drive.
When you need to access that data, it involves hunting down individual documents that may or may not contain what you’re looking for. Some of your data may be redundant, and some of it may be obsolete. Without all the data in an easily accessible location, it’s hard to keep track.
Or perhaps you’re planning on warehousing large amounts of data. Extraction and organization of your data is a critical first step in creating a useful repository. It’s the difference between a basement full of unlabeled document storage boxes and an organized filing cabinet. One is going to be much easier to reference in the future than the other.
If you gather your data from text files, spreadsheets, and databases into a single document or location, you have easy access to all of it at once. You can then view your historical data alongside operational data. You can also build reports, or prepare it for modeling, dashboarding, or warehousing with ease.
That’s what the extract process involves: pulling your data out of the varied, scattered sources it’s stored in now and aggregating, appending, and compiling it into one clean, organized location or output.
Step two in ETL is Transform. Now that your data is collected and organized in one place, you will likely need to make some changes to it before reporting with it or warehousing it.
Another term for transformation is data preparation. Through this process, you’re taking your compiled data and making the necessary changes and fixes to it in order to get it in shape for the next step in your process, whether that’s developing reports, building a predictive model, or storing it for record-keeping.
Common steps taken in the Transform process include:
- Merging data to avoid redundancies
- Cleansing data of null values
- Restructuring data
- Deriving new fields from existing data
This process ensures that the data you’re pulling into your reports accurately tells the story of what your data contains. Bad data means bad reports. The same can be said for predictive models. Without good, clean data as an input, the model will not provide you with accurate forecasts.
Finally, if you’re storing your data for record-keeping, you’ll want it to be in a consistent, reliable, standardized format. The Transform step accomplishes this for you.
This is the most straightforward step in the ETL process. Quite simply, it involves loading the compiled, clean data into a report, predictive model, or server.
If you plan to use your data for reporting, your ETL tool will ideally include a reporting feature right in the software. It should also allow you to export to visualization and dashboarding tools like Tableau or Bridge.
For predictive modeling, you’ll want to make sure the tool is able to output a modeling file that is compatible with your platform of choice.
Finally, for data storage, the ETL tool you choose should be able to export in a variety of formats and connect directly with a database to upload without involving an unnecessary manual process.
Why Rapid Insight is the Best ETL Tool Available
While there are numerous ETL Tools available, Rapid Insight’s Construct is the best choice for organizations of every size.
Rapid Insight, as its name suggests, accomplishes your ETL needs quickly and efficiently, whether those needs are reporting, modeling, or data storage. It also imposes very little CPU load and easily integrates with external software and applications, such as CRMs, databases, Tableau, Microsoft products, and all other major applications.
Rapid Insight is scalable. Do you own a small business with just a few employees and five years of records? Or do you work for a large corporation with millions of employees and a century’s worth of data? Either way, Rapid Insight can manage your ETL needs. As your business grows, Rapid Insight can easily grow with you.
It’s also incredibly affordable in comparison to many of the other options on the market. Some competitors charge over 60 times more than Rapid Insight for the same functionality.
Rapid Insight also includes free, unlimited training and support with every license. The software’s visual, drag and drop interface is easy to learn. Our team of data analysts is ready to take you through as many training sessions as you need until you’re comfortable working with the software. From there forward, the analysts are on-hand by phone, live chat, or email for support. They’ll help you resolve any trouble you have setting up your ETL process or testing various approaches.
Construct is a user-managed platform. You can easily make changes to any stage of the process on your own, rather than submitting a support ticket and waiting for a response. You can see every step in the process laid out on the screen. Even those without a background in ETL applications can intuit what the process involves.
Interested in a customized demo to see how Rapid Insight can fulfill your ETL needs? Click the button below!