A Step-by-Step Guide to Data Analysis for Extracting Insights
The global big data analytics market is expected to reach $655.53 billion by 2029. Businesses today are surrounded by data. And when wielded correctly, it can lead to manifold benefits for them.
Analyzing data is not just a choice but a necessity for businesses aiming to thrive in today's data-driven landscape. However, with approximately 328 million terabytes of data created every day, knowing the right steps to collect and analyze datasets is crucial.
In this blog, we will explore the meaning of datasets and the steps to analyze them.
What Is a Dataset?
A dataset is a structured collection of data where all elements are related. It is essentially a set of data points or observations organized and stored together.
So, for example, a business can use a dataset containing information on their customers’ preferences for analysis.
Datasets come in various forms and sizes, with specific categories depending on their content and purpose. These include numerical, categorical, and text-based datasets.
How Do You Analyze Data?
Now that you know what datasets are, the next essential question is - how to analyze a dataset?
Data analysis is the process of collecting and analyzing data to draw meaningful insights for data-driven decision-making. It is most beneficial when done with quality data that meets the standards set by data governance.
Here are the steps you can follow to analyze datasets:
- Clean up your data
- Identify the right questions
- Break down the data into segments
- Visualize the data
- Use the data to answer your questions
- Supplement with qualitative data
In the next section, we will discuss these points in detail.
6 Steps to Analyze a Dataset
1. Clean Up Your Data
The first step to analyzing datasets is data wrangling or data cleaning. As the name suggests, it means cleaning your data to remove inaccuracies and preparing it for analysis.
This step may seem unnecessary and tedious; however, clean and accurate data is the foundation for reliable insights and informed decisions.
Some common methods of transforming raw data into useful information include:
- Correcting any inconsistencies, typos, and missing values
- Ensuring all data is in the same format
- Eliminating duplicate data
- Consolidating data wherever required
While it is easy to clean small datasets, large datasets often require specialized tools like automated machine learning.
2. Identify the Right Questions
Identify the questions that you want your datasets to answer. Knowing them ensures you collect the correct data and use the most suitable tools to get the answers.
So, ask yourself: What do you want to achieve with dataset analysis? How do you want to use the information?
This will help you define specific questions. Let us understand with an example.
Say you want to improve your site’s conversion rate. So, you can ask the following questions:
- What are the most frequently visited pages on the website?
- Are there any particular times or days when the conversion rate is higher or lower?
3. Break Down the Data Into Segments
The third step to analyzing datasets is breaking your data into smaller, manageable groups with common attributes.
For example, suppose you analyze your store’s sales data. In that case, you can segment it by product categories, customer segments, or seasonal analysis.
Here's what you can achieve with data segmentation:
Segmenting your data has several benefits, including:
- Examining your data at a detailed level
- Easy to identify patterns and trends
- Allows you to compare different groups
- Helps identify opportunities quickly
4. Visualize the Data
Data visualization is one of the most integral parts of data analysis. It refers to visualizing your data using charts, dashboards, scatter plots, etc., to quickly identify patterns and trends.
Data visualization helps you summarize meaningful information and share it easily. It also makes your data visually appealing and engaging for key stakeholders. Some popular data visualization tools include Tableau, Google Charts, and Microsoft Excel.
5. Use the Data to Answer Your Questions
Now that your data is cleaned, segmented, and visualized, the next step is to use it to answer your questions. Go back to the questions you outlined at the beginning of this process. Carefully interpret the analyzed data to check if your questions are answered.
The ultimate goal of dataset analysis is to get actionable insights. So, use this data to draw meaningful conclusions and make data-driven decisions.
A crucial thing to keep in mind is that your results may raise some uncertainties or questions. In such cases, it is best to refine your analysis process and go back to the previous steps to determine what can be done better.
6. Supplement With Qualitative Data
Just as it is essential to back qualitative data with quantitative data, the vice versa is also true. Qualitative information includes narratives, interviews, observations, and open-ended responses.
Numerical (quantitative) information tells you what is happening. It helps you make objective, evidence-based decisions. However, it is qualitative information that tells you how and why a certain thing is happening.
It allows you to explore individual perspectives and gain deeper insights. Therefore, while analyzing datasets is important, supplementing those results with qualitative data is equally important.
Top Techniques for Analyzing Datasets
Here are the top data analysis techniques:
Technique 1: Data Visualization
As discussed before, data visualization refers to the visual representation of data using graphics like charts, animations, and infographics. It helps in interpreting data better and drawing meaningful insights.
Data visualization is used everywhere, not just for complex data. For example, management can use it to share organizational structure. The ultimate aim is to convey information in an easy-to-understand manner and identify trends and patterns.
Some common visualization tools include:
- Pie charts
- Line charts
- Area charts
- Scatter plots
- Heat maps
Technique 2: Statistical Analysis
Statistical analysis involves collecting and interpreting data using statistical techniques to look for patterns and trends. It is highly beneficial for developing statistical models and planning surveys.
The technique works with raw and unstructured data and converts it into meaningful information. Some of the benefits of statistical analysis include:
- Eliminating unnecessary information
- Summarizing vast amounts of data into digestible groups
- Helps in planning studies and surveys
- Informed decision making
Technique 3: Text Mining
Text is a common data type found within databases. Text mining (also known as text analysis) is the process of converting unstructured text into a structured one.
The technique uses natural language processing (NLP) to enable machines to understand and process language. It even classifies texts by different parameters, including topic, intent, and sentiment.
For example, if you want to understand public opinion before launching a new gadget using social media comments, text mining can help you determine the following:
- Identify the popular topics
- Determine whether the comments are negative, positive, or neutral
Technique 4: Machine Learning
Machine learning is a popular technique to analyze datasets. Essentially, it refers to algorithms that use data to learn and adapt.
In data analysis, machine learning works in the form of classification, clustering, anomaly detection, and similar tasks. The algorithms learn from data, uncover patterns, and make predictions. They also detect any change in the patterns and identify trends.
The process involves the following key steps:
- Cleaning and preparing data
- Selecting and transforming relevant data attributes
- Choosing suitable machine learning models
- Using historical data to teach the model
- Apply the model to make predictions or decisions
In a world that thrives on data, data analysis is at the core of every business. It helps you learn from past events, identify trends and opportunities, and make data-driven decisions. The steps mentioned in the blog can help you analyze datasets quickly and efficiently.
With the amount of data growing every second, using more sophisticated techniques for extracting insights from datasets is becoming increasingly important. This is where MarkovML can help. With our automated AI-driven analyzers, we help you analyze data, gain deeper insights, manage data effortlessly, and much more.