I currently work as a data analyst at a new company. Analytics is the step you take before you get into the ‘Science’ bit of data. You wanna learn more on Data Science? Check out my previous articles for a run through. The difference between Data Analysis and Data Science is explained here.
As a Data Analyst, your job is to present data collected in the simplest way possible to the business guys. They want to see how well their company or product is doing. No one wants to go through hundreds to thousands of data points in an Excel Sheet or CSV file (Character Separated Values or Comma Delimited files) before they can understand their company’s product behavior. In a nutshell, we do the dirty work and make it as beautiful as can be. We’re like the refiners of data.
Throughout my life cycle as an analyst it has been imperative for me to display data in the simplest and most understandable ways. And I have done this using various software.
What is dashboarding?
Dashboarding involves creating an overview of your company or product data. A dashboard is a place where all the relevant information is summed up. It visualizes key points and helps in making well-informed decisions. It is up to the data and/or business analysts and managers to determine the key performance indicators tying into the company goals that need to be displayed on the dashboard.
There can be different types of dashboards. It’s not one size fits all.
One common data analytics and visualization tool you can use is Microsoft Excel. It’s powerful and trust me, there’s a lot you didn’t know you could do in Excel. I still see and hear about functionalities of Excel all the time, and I’m amazed. But to be honest with you I don’t enjoy using it very much (Sorry, Microsoft). Only because I believe other software has prettier charts. Excel also does not handle large data points very well (200k + rows — or do I just have a slow PC?) and so I use my trusted old friend pandas (python) for data cleaning tasks and then convert back to xlsx (excel) to create my charts. That’s long, I know.
There are online applications that allow you to store your data and automatically visualizes your data for you. If you really know me, you’d know that I’m all for automation. I no come this life to suffer.
Metabase is an analytics tool which connects to a company’s database to help them store and analyze their data. It comes with the functionality of live dashboards and gives the team the power to make data-informed decisions — damn what a promo, now run me my influencer gig.
Once you import your data here, it runs automatically generated SQL queries to give you a good sense of your data. In addition, you can write your own queries or use their drag-and-drop visual query builder to generate more specific queries to answer questions surrounding your data. You can filter your data by different features, sum values, aggregate, without sweating to think up which code will work for what. Fun! Trust me it is.
Another one I’m learning to use is Redash. Redash is another software that helps you make sense of your data. It’s a platform that connects to your data sources as well and aids in building dashboards for data visualization. In my next article, I will take you through how to connect your data sources to Redash in building your dashboards.
Pro tip: Read this article on how to improve on your dashboarding techniques.
Until next time!