Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
To perform a data analysis, your first step should be to identify the question you wish to answer by analyzing the data. Once you have determined what you hope to learn through your work, it is next a good idea to begin organizing your data in a way that makes sense. Analysts tend to use spreadsheets, graphs, and charts to look at their data from a number of different perspectives. As you are organizing your data, you also may want to begin thinking about ways in which you could categorize and define the different variables of your study. Most analysts conclude this process by creating a report in which they describe their methodology and explain their results.
Data analysis is the process by which an analyst evaluates information. In most cases, data is pulled from a number of different sources, and an analyst organizes and studies data so that he or she can provide a client with an evaluation that a business can use to make informed decisions. For example, if a client is interested in learning about how he or she should market a product, an analyst might study sales and advertising trends in a number of different regions and generate a report based on these findings.
A common first step in analyzing data is to determine what a client wishes to know. For this reason, an analyst might begin by meeting with clients to find out how best to approach a project. In most cases, a client hires a research firm that is responsible for gathering data through methods such as data mining and intelligence.
Once an analyst has learned how he or she should approach data, a next step is to begin organizing data in a way that makes sense. Professionals in this field commonly use spread sheets and graphs. At this point, an analyst might begin searching for patterns among the data.
Defining data is an important part of data analysis. For example, if a client wants to know how best to sell a product in a particular region, an analyst can define a number of different variables. He or she might choose to look at data based on income levels of potential customer bases, how much they spend on similar items, and stores at which they shop.
In most cases, the analysis is complete when a professional comes to a conclusion and generates a report. This is a document in which an analyst might explain his or her conclusion and describe which methods were used to come to that conclusion. An analyst might them submit this report to a client business.
@clintflint - What I don't like is that they are developing computers that can read emotion in people's faces through analysis of the muscles. Seems harmless enough when it's used by police in interrogation, right? Well, imagine if it were being used in countries with dictatorships to ensure that the populace is being kept under control.
I don't think there's anything you can do to stop the development of this kind of technology, particularly when the analysis of this kind of data is worth millions or billions to companies. But they need to catch the legal system up to make sure that nothing goes too far. It's all too easy to allow the technology to get away on us and be used for harm.
@indigomoth - See, if someone does some kind of survey data analysis I have no problem with it, but there are some data gathering methods that are coming to light now that I really don't like.
Such as the fact that some websites will track you no matter where you go online. They might even track you in the real world through the GPS on your phone.
That sounds like science fiction, but it actually happens. That's why your phone will conveniently email you a McDonald's voucher when you walk past the restaurant. It might seem harmless, but the long term connotations of this are disturbing.
It really is worth having an expert come in and have a look at your data. I would get them involved in the collection of it as well, since there are probably avenues you haven't considered.
One example of data analysis helping out a business that I heard recently was a company that decided to analyze why they weren't selling much product online.
They had someone do a bunch of tests on their selling point and discovered that something like 30% or more people who start to buy something will stop if they are asked to create an account first. Even if it's only filling out their email.
So, the company made it possible to purchase without creating an account
. They found that even if the person had to fill out their email as part of the purchasing process, that was OK, as long as they didn't have to create an account. Once they used this information, sales began to rise.
Analysis of data can give you some surprising results, but it is almost always worth it.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!