In the past year, Data preparation has become indispensable due to its overwhelming contribution to analyses and decision support. Gartner has acknowledged its importance by publishing a market guide that profiles some of the existing and emerging vendors, focusing on one use case –“analytics”. Data preparation is positioned between data management and the analytics layer. Vendors offer a range of capabilities that include inventorying, unification of heterogeneous data sources, and lightweight ETL. Investors are asking themselves if data preparation might evolve into its own market, or if it will remain as a utility market for other markets such as analytics, applications and data quality. What’s on the horizon?
- A few analytics vendors are introducing data preparation capability to strengthen their own analytics products, but not necessarily to provide end-user oriented data preparation, although the business users are benefiting indirectly.
- A few stand-alone data preparation and analytics vendors who offer end-user oriented data preparation are strengthening their products by bringing in robustness with capabilities such as “in-database” and “in-cluster” processing in order to accommodate preparation of large volumes of data.
- There is interest in embedding data preparation as part of the application architecture.
- There is interest in embedding data preparation as part of “Data as a Service” architecture
- There is interest in leveraging machine learning techniques to surface patterns and correlations in the data, thus imparting “intelligence” to the data preparation process.
- There is interest in strengthening governance (security, sharing and reusability), thus managing the self-service aspect.
The momentum continues to build as the offerings evolve to include additional functionalities to make data preparation tasks easier for the business users and developers. I look forward to another great year for data preparation – a topic very close to my heart!