/ Effective data connection can set your business up for increased success
Effective data connection can set your business up for increased success
Connecting to your data is a vital step in the BI implementation process. Without it, everything else done provides little to no value.
Connecting to your data can be a tricky step for many users of business intelligence tools especially when there are multiple sources of data to connect to, if one source that needs a connection is one that many other companies do not use and therefore have not created streamlined processes for connection, or if the user is inexperienced in the use of the BI tool or connectors.
While there are many benefits to a good data connection, and while it can be quick and easy, it is by no means always simple. There are several things that should be taken into account and questions to ask yourself.
Why worry about data connections?
Having successful and effective connections to your data can help your team become more productive. It can help take them off the task of doing the manual work of connecting or uploading data, which can then free them up for a more meaningful contribution to the business. Everything that once was done by employees now (after the initial connection is established) happens on an automated process requiring little to no time from employees.
Another benefit of good data connections is that it can allow for automated extraction. This can help a lot, especially for businesses that want to have the most up-to-date information. Data connections can be set to update multiple times per hour, whenever the data is changed, or at set times and days in a week.
Where is the data coming from?
One of the first things to do is to consider where the data is stored and coming from. This is highly important because some connections will only work with specific sources.
Is the data coming from an Excel sheet? Snowflake? Your company website? Quickbooks? Are you the owner of the database or is the desired data coming from a public source? Each of these will require an informed user to establish an effective connection with some being more difficult than others.
How do I decide on the best connection method?
It is important to understand the methods that can be used to connect to your data and to decide which one will work best for your business. There are a number of ways to connect including uploading files, using pre-built BI tool connectors, building your own connector (or having someone build one for you), or another method. It is likely that you will need different connection types for different sources of data.
In this part of picking the best data connection for you and your business, consider what connections your BI tool supports. Do they provide connections to the sources you wish to pull data from?
Choose the best connection type
Some connectors in BI tools provide very easy connections that can be set up and completed in as little as a few minutes while others can require up to a week’s worth of time establishing a connection. Consider your knowledge and experience and the help available to you in considering your options of implementing a successful data connection.
It’s important to note that the best data connection may not necessarily be the easiest data connection to set up. Oftentimes, IT may need to be involved to provision the right access and credentials for the source data system. This is a critical step to establishing a strong initial data connection. Once data is connected, it can begin to flow into the BI tool in an automated manner. Choosing the best data connection first can save you from countless headaches down the road.
Custom data connectors
While some BI tools offer many types of connectors, there is a chance that you may want to pull data from a source that that specific BI tool does not have a connector for. In this instance, you may need to create a custom connector for your data.
Another important consideration in establishing a data connection is how you will keep your data secure. If this is an important thing for you as it is for many companies, look into connectors that ensure encryption for your data.
Integrating the data with your chosen BI tool
It is unlikely that once you are connected to your data that it will be in the exact desired format. Once you have established a successful connection, you may want to perform some transformations on the data.
Many BI tools provide ways to transform data after a connection has been established. One important transformation includes connecting the data just brought in to other data from different sources.
BI tools can offer a few ways to connect data to other data.
One way is through a join. When bringing in two or more datasets to a BI tool, it is likely that you may want to join the datasets together or add additional columns from one table to another table. This data connection is valuable as it provides a way to quickly set you up for creating visualizations that use the data from different sources.
The second way BI tools can connect data to other data is through appending the data (also called a Union). This form of connecting data will add the rows of one table to the rows of the other.
Understanding these ways of connecting data within a BI tool is very useful when working with various sources or tables.
Having successful data connections is a vital part of working with data. It can help set you up for the most effective data analysis, transformations, and visualizations. While arguably one of the most important steps, it does come with several considerations that must be weighed and taken into account.
Depending on the connection you wish to establish, this can be a simple process of importing the data or it may be a difficult task that may require outside assistance.
Developing effective data connections can help set you and your business up for success and to be more prepared to meet the challenges that data provides the solution to.
Check out some related resources:
Bring dark data to light with BI tools
Use these tips to boost your data analysis with business intelligence
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