So you want (or need) to analyze some data. You’ve got some data in an excel spreadsheet or database somewhere and you’ve been asked to take that data and do something useful with it. Maybe its time for data analytics & Python?
Maybe you’ve been asked to build some models for predictive analytics. Maybe you’ve been asked to better understand your customer base based on their previous purchases and activity. Perhaps you’ve been asked to build a new business model to generate new revenue.
Where do you start?
You could go out and spend a great deal of money on systems to help you in your analytics efforts, or you could start with tools that are available to you already. You could open up excel, which is very much overlooked by people these days for data analytics. Or…you could install open source tools (for free!) and begin hacking away.
When I was in your shoes in my first days playing around with data, I started with excel. I quickly moved on to other tools because the things I needed to do seemed difficult to accomplish in excel. I then installed R and began to learn ‘real’ data analytics (or so I thought).
I liked (and still do like) R, but it never felt like ‘home’ to me. After a few months poking around in R, I ran across python and fell in love. Python felt like home to me.
With python, I could quickly cobble together a script to do just about anything I needed to do. In the 5+ years I’ve been working with python now, I’ve not found anything that I cannot do with python and freely available modules.
Need to do some time series analysis and/or forecasting? Python and statsmodels (along with others).
Need to do some natural language processing? Python and NLTK (along with others).
Need to do some machine learning work? Python and sklearn (along with others).
You don’t HAVE to use python for data analysis. R is perfectly capabale of doing the same things python is – and in some cases, R has more capabilities than python does because its been used an analytics tool for much longer than python has.
That said, I prefer python and use python in everything I do. Data analytics & python go together quite well.