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The Road to Data Preparation

May 7, 2021

Over the course of my career, I’ve used my fair share of technologies to clean and transform data. I enjoy coding and love SQL. I built ETL pipelines for 10 years. I still use Excel (and Google Sheets) quite often in my product marketing role at Trifacta. 

When I first discovered data preparation technologies, I had questions. 

Why should I adopt a new approach when there are already plenty of ways to clean and transform data? Is learning a whole new approach worth the time, expense, and effort? Are the old ways tired, and this new way wired?

The answer is an unequivocal yes. This blog is how I got there.

Coding: The Launch Point

I started my career as a software engineer developing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application. I developed a data loader to clean, standardize, and migrate customer data to a CRM system. I also created a reporting layer on top of the CRM to monitor user activities.

I know coding.

SQL: The Standard for the Client/Server Era

Back when Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) were taking off, SQL became the de facto standard to store and transform data. I have been a Microsoft certified trainer in SQL Server and spent years in SQL consulting. I even wrote a book on Transact SQL. 

I know SQL.

ETL: The Era of the Data Pipeline

I then co-founded the French distributor for Informatica, the ETL market leader. I stayed with Informatica for 15 years, helping it grow into a billion dollar company.  

I know ETL. 

Spreadsheets: The Perennial Workhorse

During my time in product management and product marketing at Informatica, I directed my product’s business unit to adopt a proper Business Intelligence framework and process, which was done manually in Excel (with many macros).

I know Excel.

Data Preparation: A New Standard for a New Era of Analytics

One day in 2010, I discovered Google Refine. It dramatically changed my thinking about transforming data. Not long after, I learned that a new market was forming around this new approach now known as data preparation, and a new company was emerging as a data preparation thought leader. I tried Trifacta products, and I never looked back. I was so sold on the technology that I I joined the company in 2015.

I still use Trifacta on the job nearly every day. Any time I need to clean, combine, or enrich data for my business, I leverage the Trifacta data preparation platform. It dramatically improves my ability to run my marketing campaigns and makes me a better, more efficient product marketer. 

From Tired to Wired: Comparing Data Transformation Technologies 

When it comes to cleaning and transforming data to prepare it for data acquisition, analytics, and machine learning/artificial intelligence initiatives, there’s no question that the old approaches are tired. The Trifacta approach to data preparation is wired. 

Looking to dive deeper into comparisons of these data transformation approaches? Check out these eBooks:

Tired vs. Wired: Data Transformation with Code vs. Data Preparation with Trifacta
Tired vs. Wired: Data Transformation with Spreadsheets vs. Data Preparation with Trifacta
EOL for ETL? The Future of Data Wrangling in the Cloud