Data is the new frontier for companies ever since data has been called the new oil.
The roles of BI engineers, data scientists, and data analysts have become an integral part of any organization that practices Business Intelligence (BI). In their line of work, data professionals aim to bring value by gleaning useful insights from data. But data needs to undergo a preparation step before the data team can use it. That is where ETL experts step in.
ETL is the process of transforming raw data so it can be used to gain actionable insights. This article takes a close look at the ETL professional role, including skillsets, responsibilities, and when you’re better off adding an ETL developer to your team.
The abbreviation refers to Extracting, Transforming, and Loading data. An ETL developer designs, develops, and maintains data storage systems and ensures they contain business-relevant data. ETL is a three-fold process and includes the following components.
Extraction. Businesses generate massive volumes of data. It is stored across multiple systems and in diverse formats. Data needs to travel freely between the systems to power your data strategy. Extraction means consolidation of data in required sources like cloud environments, CRM, or external systems. ETL developers use ETL tools to automate this process.
Transformation. This step is about structuring and formatting data. After data is collected from its sources, it’s in a raw state. It needs to transform to be compatible with the defined standards. Thus, this step includes the following steps:
Loading. The final step is loading the transformed data into a database called the Data Warehouse system. Sometimes loading can be frequent, and sometimes it is done at regular intervals. Unlike a typical database, Data Warehouse includes tools to make it accessible for users. These are Business Intelligence tools that let you visualize and report data.
Generally, ETL developers design, develop, automate, and support complex applications to extract, transform, and load data. To be more exact, the duties of ETL developers are as follows:
An ETL developer is a role that requires expertise in several fields, such as being well-versed in software engineering and database development. To be more specific, this role requires several concrete skills. Here’s a list of crucial ETL skills.
ETL tools are the ready-made solutions that can perform ETL steps right from the start and move data between the sources. The industry standards are Informatica, Talend, and Pentaho. An ETL developer administers the integration of tools with other instruments and implements an interface to ensure data is usable.
ETL processes rely on SQL since it’s the most common database language and is used at every stage of the ETL process. In fact, ETL tools are intrinsically SQL generators, so it’s vital to have both of those skills.
Sometimes ETL tools aren’t enough to cope with all of the requirements. When that happens, ETL developers have to do the heavy lifting with the systems they are working with. Thus, knowledge of a scripting language helps ETL specialists deal with files, users, permission issues, and more.
An ETL developer defines the data formats, the way data will represent in the warehousing system. These are called data models. Reading, analyzing, and transforming data are the key skills that enable an ETL developer to determine data output formats in a database. Those data models define the tools required for transformation.
Database engineers usually create databases, but ETL engineers are also expected to have a background in data mapping and SQL databases to oversee the development process. Additionally, they need to have a solid knowledge of data warehouse architecture’s concepts, components, and techniques.
The day of an ETL developer can be pretty intensive, filled with various tasks from business, team management, and tech fields. That’s why it’s crucial to master time-management skills to fare well in this role.
An ETL expert will be a part of your data team. The main reason to hire such a team is running a complex, large-scale data system. Here’s when you should consider adding an ETL expert to your team:
An ETL developer is a complex role because it requires not only technical expertise but also business acumen. Many developers tend to focus on the technical side while making the most of data requires excelling at coding, management, and business fronts. You could consider hiring a senior business intelligence developer who will develop, deploy, and maintain BI tools and interfaces. If your project uses only off-the-shelf BI tools and solutions, a business intelligence developer might be the right fit to support your data system.