If you are a category manager or captain in the Walmart supplier arena, chances are you have become an expert in Excel. Without knowing it you have been data wrangling, and why not, what other tool enables you to combine data from such disparate data sources any easier? Granted, it’s work you have to do on a regular basis, and if these awesome spreadsheets and dashboards become popular in your organization, you get to refresh them on a regular basis, but that’s just the cost of doing business. If you have been lucky enough to get to use a BI tool like Tableau or MicroStrategy 9, then some of this work has been streamlined for you. Now, once you get your data refreshed, the visualizations can fall in line very easily. Getting the data refreshed is not always so easy though. MicroStrategy has traditionally been IT focused, with enterprise grade everything, focusing on data governance by the IT organization, while Tableau has focused in on the business department or user, that needs cool visualizations, but may not be the best at getting data into the tool in an automated fashion, but you can just whip up an excel spreadsheet and link it in. Viola – presto magic dashboards. In essence, you had to trade enterprise for ease of use.
With MicroStrategy 10, that is no longer a problem. MicroStrategy effortlessly blends structured warehouse data (read IT generated and governed data) with data from your own pocket. Build something popular they want refreshed on a regular basis? Fire it off to the Administrator, and they can recreate what you built to auto-refresh with each data load. A lot of what you build is a one-off to answer a buyer question about on-shelf availability, or you’ve got some market basket data that is driving a question. It’s not necessarily something that needs to be built, refreshed, and maintained as a corporate dashboard or report. But, you do want to blend this data that is loaded each week in your enterprise data warehouse, like your POS sales or your historical inventory. But what if the data is not formatted correctly to report against?
You could make the argument that you need to load everything into the data warehouse, but why would you do that if you have a one-off analysis and you may never need that data again. Only one DSR makes it pretty easy to add data like it’s tissue paper for integration with the rest of the demand signal data for use in MicroStrategy, and that is the Vortisieze DSDH (Demand Signal Data Hub) – mostly because we are using Cloudera as the backend. If you knew you were going to run these reports on a regular basis, or needed them refreshed – then by all means add them to the data warehouse, but now the choice to not add data to the data warehouse does not default you back to Excel – you can do this in MicroStrategy Desktop, blend it with the enterprise data you have come to trust, and refresh this on a weekly basis with a few mouse clicks.
What enables this is the Data Wrangling feature that is new with MicroStrategy 10 that is not available in any other tool I have seen. See, one of the benefits of utilizing ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) to load data into your data warehouse, is that your ETL team will cleanse and harmonize your data so that it lines up correctly with the rest of your data. States won’t be a mish-mash of two letter abbreviations or full state names. Data won’t be mixed formats – that is the whole point of ETL. So, when you skip the ETL team, you are on your own to cleanse and harmonize your data. Traditionally this meant dropping your data to excel and spending a few hours searching and cleaning it up so that the reports made sense. MicroStrategy 10’s new data wrangling feature will do some minor cleanup of local data sources for you without the need for an ETL team.
Now, you can have the best of both worlds. MicroStrategy 10 has been designed to give the business user the most flexibility in data sources, and not rely on your ETL or IT team to cleanup local dirty data, but still be able to leverage corporate data sources that have been cleaned and vetted. Got a marketing data set direct from twitter? Want to marry that with POS sales or weather? I can’t imagine these tasks can get much easier now, and you have more flexibility than ever to bring in your ETL team when they are truly needed. With the ability to go and buy a single license of MicroStrategy 10 for $600, there is not much standing in your way of being the organizational rock star of analytics. Plus, now you get to add the cool title of “Data Wrangler” to your credentials.