ETL underpins today’s data-driven marketing, even if it’s an abbreviation you don’t hear too much about. Essentially, it separates the analysis segment from everything that comes before it. ETL stands for extract, transform, and load, and it describes collecting and processing data from a wide range of sources and storing it in a database where it can be analyzed. Organizations have access to a number of data sources but most of the time that data is presented in a less useful way. The results of that analysis can be employed to build effective business strategies and decisions.
An Introduction to ETL
ETL is a three-stage process that includes:
Extract: In this step, data is extracted from all the data sources into a staging area. In other words, it is the act of targeting a data source and pulling data from it so that information can be transformed, integrated, and stored. To ensure ETL works well, data needs to come directly from all types of sources possible and in its rawest form.
Transform: In this step, data needs to be stripped of its various formats, cleansed, and harmonized. This step makes collected data easier to read for end users. Ensuring the highest possible data quality is essential for this process to work well. This includes detecting, removing duplicates or errors, and sorting data into relevant as well as predetermined categories.
Load: Once the data has been sorted, cleaned, validated, and prepared, users, it needs to be stored somewhere. In this final step, the transformed data is harmonized and loaded into a target location or database. The loaded information can be analyzed to produce actionable insights for future analysis.
Importance of ETL Technology
ETL software is important for businesses as it helps save their time spent on data extraction and preparation, and the timed saved could be better spent on evaluating and using that information in driving business growth. Each of the three components of this software helps business users cut downtime and development effort involved.
Extraction Phase – People agree that “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. And this is true for ETL as well. As the saying goes, in the ETL process, the strength lies in the extraction phase. The extract stage determines myriad data sources, priorities (that involves extract order), and refresh rate (that involves velocity) – all of which impact generation of time-to-insights.
Transformation Phase – After the data has been extracted into an ETL environment, transforming it is important to bring clarity and order into the database. For example, dates are consolidated into specified time slots, transactions are modeled into specified events, strings are parsed to their business meanings, data is translated to coordinates, errors are put aside for later, and more.
Loading Phase – In the last phase and another important phase, the targets and refresh rates are determined. The loading can either be done in an incremental manner or “upserted” which is updating data while inserting new data.
ETL’s Impact on Business
ETL integration software help businesses handle large volumes of data and produce actionable insights. The insightful information generation can be used by:
ETL integration solutions create an environment that helps users acknowledge diverse data demands without getting lost in parallel data versions. It allows:
Improve Data Governance: ETL integration process improves data management by improving availability, usability, integrity, and security of enterprise data. It also delivers a centralized view of the ever-expanding data.
Better Decision-Making: Storing high-quality data into a database allows business users access this data and derive extracts. The insightful information will help them make decisions with confidence. And being an automated procedure, all this happens fast.
Deliver Delightful Customer Experience: When decisions are made faster, it is evident that customers will have their needs met faster. This fuels delight and satisfaction in customers, driving sales and ultimately revenue.
Empower Business User: Many organizations employ self-service based ETL integration tools that give power to non-technical business users extract, transform, and load without IT support. Consequently, IT teams become free to take up the governance role, improving their productivity and making companies easier to do business with.