We’ve all heard the story that data analysts are spending an inordinate amount of time preparing data and not enough time actually doing the value-added analysis. But how much time are they actually spending, and where are they spending it?
At Blue Hill, we’ve heard a lot of rumors that data analysts are spending 60%+ of their time just preparing the data. We weren’t sure if this sounded too extreme to be true – or too glaring to be ignored. So we decided to find out.
Earlier this summer, we launched a survey to ask just these sorts of questions. The survey covered a number of other areas as well, including data source adoption trends and analytics use cases. We received 186 data analyst respondents, and found some interesting results that we will be publishing soon.
First, we asked analysts how much time they spend working with data every day. Then we asked them what percent of this time is spent just preparing it for their eventual analysis.
Here’s what we found:
Here’s what it means:
In general, analysts spend between 40%-60% of their time just working to get their data to ‘play nice’. In other words – often, more than half of the time spent working with data is NOT spent aiding business decisions or delivering insights.
Even just improving the process of wrangling and harmonizing data by a marginal amount can yield significant time-savings. For individual analysts, this means that there is an opportunity to look beyond the spreadsheets (we found 78% of people use spreadsheets as a preparation tool) and find more efficient ways to get the same results. For CIO’s and managers, this is an opportunity to strategically invest in tools that will have broad and persistent efficiency gains.
Looking for a place to start? We’ve written about a number of players looking to solve these types of issues, and we’d recommend taking a look at our research report: Five Key Vendors: Self-Service Data Preparation.