This semester, I’ve been taking 590 – Data Analytics with Dr. Peiling Wang. This is a totally new area to me. I’ve analyzed data sets before, but not to the degree that this class talks about. I’m used to taking a set of data in a spreadsheet and plotting charts and graphs that depict certain trends. This is what I used to do frequently at my engineering job. However, data analytics is more than that. Data analytics starts with questions that will help a business or institution and get an edge, and then uses data available to answer those questions. The data may not be structured, but it’s up to the data analyst to structure it in such a way to extract valuable information from it.
What struck me about this field is how vast it is. Also, how fluid it is. It’s a relatively new field compared to even other highly technical fields, so it’s changing quickly. Data sets get bigger, and tools to analyze that data are constantly being developed.
It differs from designing a new database in a database management system because a) you already have the data, b) you can move data around, extract it into new tables, etc, to get the information you need without worrying about messing up the database model. If you need data in a different format that it is given to you, just create a new field or table and convert it. If you need data from several tables to make a new table, just extract them and move them.
I feel pretty certain that I’ve learned enough to be dangerous. At least I’ve learned enough to hold my own in a data analytics discussion. I’d need more practice and instruction to be able to do this all my own, but I know the basics, and that’s progress.