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Understanding Data Manipulation Tools and their Importance

March 21st, 2024

Data is transforming the way companies operate today. From business decision-making to day-to-day operations, everything is dependent on data. And none of this is possible without transforming raw data into useful information, especially when a large amount of data and disparate sources are involved. This is where data manipulation tools comes into play. It translates data into the required format so it can be easily cleaned and mapped for extracting insights.

This blog will illustrate the data manipulation concept in detail and further explore the necessity of data manipulation tools for businesses. We’ll also share some tips and steps to help you simplify the data manipulation process.

data manipulation tools

Image Source: lrdatascience

What is Data Manipulation?

Data manipulation involves altering data to make it organized and more accessible for analysis or presentation.

Data manipulation language (DML) is a programming language used for inserting, deleting, and modifying data in databases, aiming to cleanse or map the data. SQL (Structured Query Language) is a prominent DML for interacting with databases.

When employing SQL for data manipulation, four key functions are commonly used:

  • Select: Retrieves data from a database.
  • Update: Modifies existing data in a database.
  • Insert: Adds new data into a database.
  • Delete: Removes data from a database.

Source: G2 Crowd

Why Use Data Manipulation?

Businesses use data for predicting trends, understanding customer behavior, increasing productivity, reducing costs, etc. through manipulation of data. Other additional benefits include:

  1. Format consistency: Data organized in a unified, orderly manner helps business users make better decisions.
  2. Historical overview: Accessing data of previous projects quickly can help an organization make decisions regarding deadline projection, team productivity, budget allocation, etc.
  3. Improved efficiency: By having more organized data, a business can isolate and even reduce external variables to contribute to the overall efficiency of the business.

Data Manipulation Language

It is possible to make data more organized or readable through data manipulation language or DML. It is a computer programming language that is used for inserting, omitting, and updating data in a database. It makes the data easy to cleanse and map for further analysis. A commonly used data manipulation language is Structured Query Language (SQL), which is used to update and retrieve data in a relational database using Insert, Select, and Update statements.

What are Data Manipulation Tools?

Data manipulation tools allow you to modify data to make it easier to read or organize. These tools help identify patterns in your data that may otherwise not be obvious. For instance, you can arrange a data log in alphabetical order using a data manipulation tool so that discrete entries are easier to find.

People often confuse data manipulation with ETL and other transformation techniques. However, data manipulation involves sorting, rearranging, and moving data without essentially changing it. It includes operations to adapt data in the form that is needed to display information or feed and train an analytics model.

The key purpose of data manipulation is to alter the relationship (either logical or physical) that one data item has with another, not the data itself. Common operations used for data manipulation include row and column filtering, aggregation, join and concatenation, string manipulation, classification, regression, and mathematical formulas.

ETL, on the other hand, serves a different purpose. It involves extracting data from the source system and making it compatible with the destination system before writing into it.

Why Do You Need Data Manipulation Tools?

Data manipulation is a critical task in process optimization. It transforms data into a usable form that can be used further to generate insights, such as analyzing financial data, customer behavior and carrying out trend analysis.

Data manipulation tools are widely used during integration to make data compatible with the target system. For example, users associated with accounting often manipulate raw data acquired from vendors and marketing to comprehend product prices, sales trends, or prospective tax requirements. Similarly, stock market experts can leverage datasets to forecast market trends allowing them to manage their investment portfolios accordingly.

These are just a few use-cases of data manipulation. Some of the other ways in which manipulation can be beneficial for organizations include:

  • Data Consistency

A consistent data format makes it easier to organize, read, and analyze data. When data comes from disparate sources, the user must transform and manipulate it to create a unified format. After standardizing the format, it is easier to write data into the enterprise system or utilize it for reporting.

  • Data Projection

As a business, you can’t deny the importance of data when it comes to business intelligence (BI). Conducting an exhaustive data analysis is vital for companies, particularly when it comes to investments. Every business makes use of past data to plan for the future. Data manipulation tools makes it easier to create projections, especially in the financial sector, where you depend on your past investments’ results for future considerations.

  • Value Generation

Data manipulation allows you to update, modify, delete, and input data into a database. This means that you can leverage data to obtain in-depth insights and make better business decisions.

  • Redundant Data Removal

Often, data coming from source systems include redundant, erroneous, or unwanted information. Making this data useful requires running it through quality checks and applying cleansing filters to extract the information essential for your company. By using data manipulation, you can swiftly clean your data so that you can filter out the records that matter.

  • Data Interpretation

When dealing with complex data that involves multiple formats and business conditions, it is next to impossible to make sense of it without manipulation. You need to have the capability to visualize data and alter it into valuable and comprehensible information. A data manipulation tool might resolve this problem by converting data into the desired format and integrate it with different tools to enhance the visual experience. This makes it easier for users to comprehend and consume data.

Tips and Steps for Manipulating Data

The most efficient way to manipulate data is via tools that offer built-in, automated data manipulation functions, such as data cleaning, mapping, aggregating, or storing. These tools save you the trouble of entering data manually and performing low-value repetitive tasks. Moreover, the automation features supported by these tools facilitate report generation and delivery without any human intervention.

Effective data manipulation comprises of five key steps:

  • The first step is data extraction from data sources
  • Next, clean the data obtained from the source system(s) before rearranging and restructuring it
  • Import and construct a database that serves as the staging area
  • Combine or filter out information based on your business requirements
  • Lastly, leverage the manipulated data to garner valuable insights

Enterprise-grade data manipulation tools like Astera Centerprise, simplify data manipulation by offering built-in transformations and source and destination connectors. You can easily manipulate data without writing a single line of code. Moreover, you can schedule jobs using the solution’s automation and workflow orchestration capabilities.

Download the trial version of Astera Centerprise and experience first-hand how the software can help you leverage your data.

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