Some data analytics tips from the DAN “Science Fair”

Some data analytics tips from the DAN "Science Fair"

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Data Science Fair, hosted by the Data Analytics Network (the DAN). The set up of the Data Science Fair is great: Data stories are showcased on old school tri-fold boards (just like middle school!) and presentations are given for each board. (You can view some of the boards here: https://tinyurl.com/62jrfzau)

As I watched the nine or so presentations during the event, some key points were highlighted:

  • When it comes to analyzing data, there's no requirement that you use "powerful" data analytics tools like Power BI or Tableau. Excel will suffice in many cases. Remember, it's not about the process, it's about the outcome. So if Excel can give you the answers you're seeking, have at it!
  • Data will never be perfect, but you should clean up data that is obviously wrong. As one presenter pointed out, if the data says a person has been a member since they were 2 years old, you probably need to clean up that data!
  • When considering averages, there's nothing wrong with eliminating outliers that will skew the results. One presenter was analyzing average giving and removed one donor who had given $500,000 to the association to establish a new fund. This donation was dramatically larger than a typical donation, so it was removed.
  • Don't forget to analyze qualitative data (e.g., open-ended survey responses). It can be as useful as quantitative data.

All of the presentations were great and the DAN expects to run this as an annual event.

I highly recommend the DAN to anyone who is involved in data analysis within their association. They offer monthly webinars and are completely volunteer-run. To get engaged, you can find their LinkedIn group here: https://tinyurl.com/DataAnalyticsNetwork

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