Bailey Pritchett, Data Quality Engineer
Unfortunately, all data is not created equal. It comes from tables, external and online sources – and from manual entry by associates, too. Consistency matters. Even basic elements like social security numbers, zip codes and birth dates often lack standard formatting when added to databases.
Variances in data often frustrate operators tasked with determining what the data represents, means, tells us or leads us to do next. Luckily, Informatica’s Analyst and Developer applications not only help identify and understand the data but can also connect the results to other data sources and expand the data’s usefulness.
Analyst and Developer are aptly named, indicating the type of associate needed to manage and use the data. Each application has specific attributes and capabilities. However, an operator may need to know and use both to complete a given project.
Let’s look at both to understand their roles and what they offer:
For starters, Analyst is web-based and avoids traditional local installation issues. It is accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection. A user’s unique sign-on credentials allow for use by multiple operators without conflict or interference, yet also permit collaboration.
Like many programs, the user interface has top-row task navigation. Users can toggle among tabs to establish business rules, definitions, profiles and scorecards. Think of Analyst as an assessment tool, one that unlocks data; creates reusable rules that enhance data quality; and is user-friendly for colleagues lacking technical training or hands-on expertise.
With an appropriate data source selected, Analyst can help discover, identify and validate the contents of a table or other data source. At the heart of Analyst is the ability to create simple rules (which can be re-used) that pair with a profile of the data’s contents. Consider the resulting profile as a snapshot in time of the data elements. Selecting or deselecting attributes can sharpen the focus of the data for a specific purpose, such as counting occurrences and/or frequency. A marketer, for example, may have their ideal customer in mind based on age, gender, state of residence or another demographic attribute. Through profiling, a marketer can view their ideal customer’s data and then compare it to all their customers’ data.
A key Analyst feature is the ability to create and view scorecards that graphically display a column’s profile values or a selected data quality rule. Scorecards enable analysts to drill down on live or staged data for either valid or invalid values. By creating profiles and then scorecards, the data can be distilled into its most relevant use, helping the operator determine if an idea or theory is worth pursuing further.
Built for veteran operators’ use, Developer is designed to perform complex, deep-dive data discoveries. It complements Analyst by first gleaning data from Analyst, and then improves how that information is viewed in both Analyst and Developer. However, Developer cannot create scorecards (thus requiring an operator to also know Analyst to do so) and is available by download instead of being web-based.
Building and applying complex rules that enhance data quality – even among separate sources – are among Developer’s many benefits. Data can be transformed through cleansing and standardization, and duplicate records can be identified. Mappings, a set of inputs and outputs that represent the flow of data between sources and targets, enable this and are one of Developer’s key assets. Transformations, objects that generate, modify or pass data, are added to mappings to increase data quality. A Developer-exclusive option is the “Multiple Profiles” feature. Various items can be opened or profiled with just one click, and when performed with preferred settings, can run several profiles together.
While an all-in-one solution would be ideal, Informatica’s Analyst and Developer applications work well together to identify, gather and connect data from many sources and even in different formats.