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End User Data Preparation: Three Takeaways

Our latest report on end user data preparation is our second assessment of the landscape and is already one of our most popular reports. We define end user data preparation as “a self service capability for end users to model, prepare, and combine data prior to analysis.”

The “end user” in this case usually sits at the decision-making end of the business and demands creative autonomy to manipulate internal and external data resources free of IT dependency. These roles draw a bright spotlight and more than a little executive scrutiny.

As you review the current state and future needs for end user data preparation in your organization, here are three high level takeaways to keep in mind as you dig into our latest findings.

1. Tip of the spear: Though it sits somewhere in the middle of business intelligence technology and initiative priorities, end user data prep consumers are key players in optimizing organizational initiatives through their analysis, but they need to move data and perform various manipulations and ETL tasks in order to get there. They look for insight in multiple files and databases – and more than half at least occasionally enrich data from third-party sources. Think analysts driving sales, marketing and other high demand revenue growth, campaign or cost initiatives along with a variety of free-roaming power users. More than seven in 10 respondents in sales and marketing (and IT) say data prep is either critical or very important and 65 percent of all respondents “constantly” or “frequently” make use of end user data preparation. R&D says it’s important as well, which hints at its trajectory.

2. Results fall short: Most organizations say their current end user data prep efforts and processes could be much better and they would welcome improvements. Only about 12 percent say their ability to model, prepare and combine data is “highly effective” and more than one-third say their abilities are somewhat or totally “ineffective.” Depending or organization size, role, geography and location, end users want better interfaces, access to common files and databases, the ability to combine data along with scheduling, monitoring and testing.

3. Needs and Gaps: The product vendor community gets the message. All the vendors we sampled in our report say end user data prep is “critical” or “very important” and they are investing to make data prep more fruitful and less burdensome process. The results range from good to not so good however: better in areas of integration and output formats; mixed in usability features; and a bit worse in areas of data manipulation. We identify the hot spots and provide a list of rankings by capability in our summary.

You’ll find this and much more in our report, all free to the qualified users who filled out our survey and this is just one of over a dozen reports we’re producing this year. For those that are not a part of our research community, the report is available for purchase at http://enduserdataprep.report


Jim Ericson
Research Director
Dresner Advisory Services

Jim Ericson is a research director with Dresner Advisory Services. Jim has served as a consultant and journalist who studies end-user management practices and industry trending in the data and information management fields. From 2004 to 2013 he was the editorial director at Information Management magazine (formerly DM Review), where he created architectures for user and industry coverage for hundreds of contributors across the breadth of the data and information management industry. As lead writer he interviewed and profiled more than 100 CIOs, CTOs, and program directors in a 2010-2012 program called “25 Top Information Managers.” His related feature articles earned ASBPE national bronze and multiple Mid-Atlantic region gold and silver awards for Technical Article and for Case History feature writing.

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