Updated: Nov 26, 2020
This insight will tell you about some of the basic tools that you can start using in your organization to enable smooth decision-making processes. Check out the FAQ section to find answers to some of the questions that might apply to you directly.
Why Data Analysis?
Before diving into data analysis tools, let us invest some time in understanding why we want to read further in Data Analytics? Why do we need to do data analysis when we are not in the Analytics business? Have you ever wondered why in the last few years, since the birth of the internet, the growth rate of new businesses changed significantly?
Fast & Faster
Food for thought, How many years did it take for General Motors, Exxon Mobil, Ford Motors, and General Electric, all the big brands of the 19th Century, to become Global giants? It took generations. On the contrary, how many years did it take for Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple, the biggest companies after the invention of the internet, to take over the world and reach the pinnacle of customer satisfaction?
There are simple answers to this question that why companies now grow and decline at a faster pace than ever. It’s because now we have the technology which adds exponential value to the system creating wealth for society at a much faster pace than we could imagine. Take the example of Uber, it channelized an existing unorganized travel business into an app and became the world’s best transport solution without owning a vehicle.
Data is the new Oil
Apart from technology, data also played an important role in this growth. We are generating loads of data every second, even now when you are reading this article on your mobile. Companies collect this data in the most efficient way available to them and then use it in all the fields of their organization, say in sales, marketing, operations, or taking strategic decisions. During these struggling times in 2020, SMEs should start acknowledging the power of data to sustain and grow.
What’s in it for SMEs
If you have read so far, I am assuming that you are interested and want to grow your business. You are not afraid to follow an unorthodox path to reach the next level. Now let us understand what exactly is data analysis. In simple terms, when you use any type of data to make a decision it is called data analysis or decision science, like taking a guess on how much a pint will cost you in your favourite pub, how much money your son will be spending in a month, how much you should save to buy the new apartment.
Just like a common man, companies also use data to make decisions and streamline their day to day operations. How much will be the ROI from a newly started project, in which international location should the company expand, how to design, test and launch a product in the market to minimise the cash burn rate. All these questions can be answered mathematically and in an even better way if you have hands-on practice of some of the basic tools. There are many tools in the market which are complex and expensive, but below are a few which you can start with, just after reading this article.
Best Softwares for Data Analysis :
1. Microsoft Excel
This is one of the most popular and widely used tools for data analytics by programmers and non-programmers. It’s simply a spreadsheet that you can use to do wonders. The best thing is that you will get plenty of help and free templates for all your needs and without any coding experience and you can do all the math, graphs, forecasting and many other activities.
Its top 3 features are:
1. It can be integrated with any other Microsoft tool like MS Powerpoint and MS Word. New office 365 is way ahead of its older versions and can be used for better project management too.
2. VBA - You can perform coding and can automate your tasks. If you know basic programming, then you can easily avail a lot of sample codes online which you can just plug-in and start playing.
3. Multiple sheets provide better segmentation of data, and graphs provide a very good visual representation of ideas.
SAS is one of the best packages that an organisation can use for predictive analytics. It is widely used in the Pharmaceutical and Banking industry. SAS Viya is a web-based tool which gives more power to the user.
The top 3 features of SAS are:
1. It can be integrated with Microsoft Excel and one can easily import data from excel to SAS, do the analysis and then report the results to excel again for graphical representation.
2. SAS gives the functionality of writing SQL codes to manage data which increases the number of SAS users and SQL is a widely used language for the past few decades.
3. SAS is a simple tool that can be used for designing analytical models that use a big chunk of data to predict the future. Mathematical analysis is one of the core competencies of SAS.
Python is an Object-Oriented Language. One can access the Python library to call functions and easily write the code to achieve the given objective.
The top features of Python are:
1. Free Free Free Period. So you can start using it without buying a license.
2. It releases its new packages in a short period which programmers can use very easily.
3. Apart from data science, Python can be used in many other verticals, for example, in Web Designing.
Qlikview is a leading Business intelligence and data analytics tool. It turns raw data into remarkable business outcomes with data integration and data analytics cloud solutions to generate actionable insights.
It’s top features are:
1. Dynamic Business Intelligence ecosystem.
2. Interacting with dynamic applications, dashboards, and analytics.
3. Secure and real-time collaboration.
It’s the worlds leading data visualization tool designed in California. It can also be used for data analysis and can generate live dashboards from multiple departments in one place. In Small and Medium Scale organizations, it is a must-have package which can be used by top-level executives. SQL can be used to combine data from multiple sources and dashboards can be created in runtime.
Its new features are:
1. Relationship - Creating relationships in data is one of the latest and most useful features of Tableau. You can analyze more data with less ETA and can make more informed business decisions.
2. Metric - It's the most efficient way of analyzing a Key Performance Indicator (KPI). You can check it on your mobile app as well.
3. Set Control - The set control is a feature by which a user can change the members of a set. Users can change set members with multiple select dropdowns and it automatically refreshes the dashboards.
Q1. Are Python and R gradually eating the market of SAS
Ans. SAS is a market leader in many segments like Healthcare, Risk Management, and Banking. However, due to the launch of open source languages especially Python & R, small and Medium industries are moving to these cloud-based packages. However, to tackle this problem, SAS is promoting its cloud-based tool which is called SAS Viya. This tool is as powerful as any other tool in the market and has all the features of cloud-based packages.
Q2. I am running a small company with less than 10 employees, which data visualization package I should use, Qlikview or Tableau?
Ans. There are pros and cons of both the languages. It depends on your business requirements. If the data is big then Tableau can be a bit slow but depends on how are you using it. Qlikview is given better support than Tableau, but Tableau is extremely easy to use that you will hardly need anyone’s help once you have little experience of the same.
Q3. Due to the emergence of new languages/softwares, do you think Microsoft Excel will be outdated in a few years?
Ans. Well, Microsoft is one of the most innovative companies on our planet. So if any of their product is going down, then it can be only due to a new version release of its old language/software. Microsoft excel is the first tool that every company starts using before graduating to another powerful language. Thus it works as the first stepping stone for an organization’s data analytics capabilities. Thus the comparison between Microsoft Excel and new powerful data analytics tools will be unfair. Even the new Power BI tool from excel is based on excel.
Q4. Why Python is now one of the fastest-growing languages for data analytics?
Ans. Initially, Python was designed to design Desktop and Web Application softwares. However, due to being an open-source language, it has quickly become one of the most favoured language. New libraries were added to enable mathematical functions thus making it suitable for data analytics.
If you think we have missed any important language, then please give us your valuable feedback. To take your organization to the next level, you should start taking baby steps towards creating an analytical culture in your organization.
Q5. Should I select only from these mentioned packages?
Ans. The ranking is solely based on our experience in the data analytics world. There are many other softwares which are not discussed here but are equally good. The trick is to understand the data in the organization and then having a clear objective in mind before selecting any tool.