Data Analysis Methods
August 12, 2019

5 Top Tips for Data Manipulation

Regardless of your industry, data is changing the way organisations function. Structured data, or the type of information that is only readable to machines, must have a uniform structure to work correctly. To be usable by humans, the data has to be translated and manipulated so that it is cleansed and mapped so that it can provide useful insights. With an increasing amount of data being used and stored, the necessity for data manipulation becomes even more critical.

As such, we will take a look at the ins and outs of data manipulation, as well as some of the top tips of how you and your software can better organise data to extract useful insights.  


What is Data Manipulation?

Data manipulation refers to the process of adjusting data to make it organised and easier to read.

Data manipulation language, or DML, is a programming language that adjusts data by inserting, deleting and modifying data in a database such as to cleanse or map the data. SQL, or Structured Query Language, is a language that communicates with databases. When using SQL- data change statements for data manipulation, four functions can occur, namely:

- Select
- Update
- Insert
- Delete

These commands tell the database where to select data from and what to do with it.

Here’s how it works:

- SELECT: The select statement allows users to pull a selection from the database to work with. You tell the computer what to SELECT and FROM where.

- UPDATE: To change data that already exists, you will use the UPDATE statement. You can tell the database to update certain sets of information and the new information that should be input, either with single records or multiple records at a time.

- INSERT: You can move data from one location to another by using the INSERT statement.

- DELETE: To get rid of existing records within a table, you use the DELETE statement. You tell the system where to delete from and what files to get rid of.

Since SQL does not allow you to import or export data from outside sources, some providers can store data and give you the tools to manipulate data for your business needs.


Purpose of Data Manipulation

Data manipulation is a crucial function for business operations and optimisation. To properly use data and transform it into useful insights like analysing financial data, customer behaviour and performing trend analysis, you have to be able to work with the data in the way you need it. As such, data manipulation provides many benefits to a business, including:

- Consistent data: Having data in a consistent format allows it to be organised, read and better understood. When you take data from different sources, you may not have a unified view, but with data manipulation and commands, you can make sure that your data is consistently organised and stored.

- Project data: Being able to use historical data to project the future and provide more in-depth analysis is paramount for businesses, especially when it comes to finances. Data manipulation makes this function possible.

- Create more value from the data: Overall, being able to transform, edit, delete and insert data into a database means that you can do more with your data. By having information that stays static, it becomes useless. But, when you know how to use data to your benefit, you can have clear insights to make better business decisions.

- Remove or ignore unneeded data: Frequently, there is data that is unusable and can interfere with what matters. Unnecessary or inaccurate data should be cleaned and deleted. With data manipulation, you can quickly cleanse your records so that you can work with the information that matters.


Steps to Manipulate Data

To get started with data manipulation, you’ll want to understand the general steps and order of operations.

1. To begin, you’ll need a database, which is created from your data sources.
2. You then need to cleanse your data, with data manipulation, you can clean, rearrange and restructure data.
3. Next, import and build a database that you will work from.
4. You can combine, merge and delete information
5. Then analyse the data, to make all of this information come to life, and glean useful insights.


How to Get Started? Excel Tips for Basic Data Manipulation

Some many essential tips and tricks allow you to get the most out of your data, even when it’s in Microsoft Excel, for example. Some of these include:

1. Functions and formulas: You can use essential math functions to make your numbers mean more. By merely writing essential math functions into the bar in Excel, you can add, subtract, multiply and divide data to see immediate results.

2. Autofill function: In the same vein, if you want to run an equation across multiple cells, but don’t want to keep retyping it, you can drag your mouse to the bottom right corner of the cell and drag it downwards to apply the same formula to multiple rows at a time.

3. Filter and sorting: With large datasets, it’s useful to be able to filter and sort information based on your needs. You can use this feature to save time in analysing data.

4. Remove duplicates: Duplicate data can affect your analysis. As such, you can remove duplicates by utilising the “remove duplicate” function on a spreadsheet once you’ve selected the data you want to work with.

5. Merging, Separating, creating and combining columns: To further organise data, you can connect, merge or separate columns and sheets of data.


How to Improve? Advanced Tips for Data Manipulation

The best and most efficient way to manage data manipulation is through software programs that offer advanced and automatic data manipulation features. Data automation tools like Solvexia offer benefits like automatically cleanse, map, validate, calculate, and store data with a live feed so you can say goodbye to manual data entry and low-value repetitive tasks. Additionally, with automation, reports can be generated and sent to specific people with no human interference. These reports help to run analysis, predict trends and create forecast models efficiently. Furthermore, with a robust system, all data is securely stored and allows for audit trails for governance and accessible data for collaboration.

Data manipulation within the finance industry can save a ton of time. Rather than having to copy-paste data from invoices or expense reports, software systems can handle data migration and reduce the level of human error, as a primary example.


The Bottom Line

Data comes in many forms and is needed for business leaders to be able to make decisions. From marketing to sales, accounting to customer service, data is best utilised when it can be manipulated for any relevant purpose. Proper data analysis relies on the ability to perform data manipulation, which involves rearranging, sorting, editing and moving data around.

There are many different ways to execute data manipulation, from basic operations in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to SQL to software programs like SolveXia, that can do the work for you by executing commands. Starting with data collection to data organisation, you’ll want to be able to take data from various sources and combine it to get the insights you need.

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