Lately, I have been studying Data Analytics; it is a field I have always had an interest in. The overarching goal of studying it is to become equipped for Business Intelligence. Business Intelligence simply deals with applying certain processes or using certain tools to draw insights from raw data. The operating environment for businesses and startups is now highly competitive. Many enterprises have their respective competitive advantages. What I have noticed though is that the biggest competitive advantage is now data. Big enterprises like Google or Facebook have the upper hand because of data. If you want to surpass your competitors you need to start prioritizing the collection and analysis of data. Let me share with you 3 data analytics tools that you must commit to learning and using in 2022.
Many of you could be familiar with Microsoft Excel but mainly on a basic level. There are things you can do with Excel that will blow your mind. This is the entry-level tool that you can use for data analytics. It is also great in that it is compatible with the other tools I will discuss later on. Datasets in Excel formats can be loaded into Power BI and Tableau. You can manipulate datasets, create visuals from them, and so on. So Microsoft Excel is the first one you must study or be taught on. For me, the advantage I have is that I was introduced to Microsoft Excel when I was just 12 years of age.
Tableau came onto the scene around 8 or so years ago. Interestingly, if you compare its interface with Power BI they are somewhat similar. Even when it comes to features and functions, there are similarities. Some surveys done have shown that Tableau is more widely used than Power BI. I guess this is because Power BI came later than Tableau; Power BI is catching up though. I also guess that it is because it is a Microsoft product and since many people use Windows-based systems maybe that is why. In my opinion, Tableau comes with more colour features than Power BI. For example, when you load datasets and you want to create visuals, it automatically shows which visuals you can create. I have also noticed that Tableau is mostly smoother to use i.e. speed.
For me, I did learn Excel first and Power BI was the second focus. I dealt with Power BI for quite some time before moving to learn Tableau. Power BI is an awesome data analytics tool, much like Tableau. One of the demanding things about Power BI is that they update it every month. Every month there will be some new update which means you always have to keep up. If study Power BI today and not use it for say, 6 months when you use it later with the latest update, you might struggle to find your way around. So that is one thing to take note of about Power BI. Otherwise, it is not as challenging as you might think. The secret behind mastering all these 3 tools is regular practice with large datasets. By large datasets, I am referring to, for example, a dataset with more than 10000 records.
There are of course many other data analytics tools you can choose. These 3 I have shared with you are the most common and relatively easier ones to use. In Microsoft Excel, there is a certain sophistication that can come with at times having to use special formulas. However, it is largely not as sophisticated as using tools like Python or R. Those tools require you to know how to and to code. So I recommend Excel, Power BI, and Tableau because they do not require coding. This year I managed to pursue certified learning programmes for all 3. Trust me; I know how much businesses and startups need them – especially in Zimbabwe. Data Analytics is in the top 3 of the most sought after skillsets in the world right now. So be it for your business, startup, or even your career, knowing how to use these data analytics tools will put you ahead.