At Zeo, we strongly believe in taking a structured, methodical approach when leveraging AI assistants for data analysis. Without proper data preparation, contextualization, and rapid curation, these tools will fail to provide meaningful insights. In this comprehensive blog post, we will share the step-by-step methodology our team followed to successfully use AI to achieve robust data analysis results, based on what we learned from Iren Saltalı's enlightening video. You can check our AI blog page to increase your knowledge about the different use cases of AI, and visit our YouTube channel to watch the full video.

Step 1: Deeply Understand Your Data

The first step is to fully understand the data you already have. Here are some basic questions to ask yourself:

  • What data sources do we currently have access to? Rank tracking? Social media APIs? BigQuery?

Knowing exactly what data sources are available allows you to maximize the data you already have before looking for additional sources. Don't assume that AI will only know what you have.

  • What specific fields or attributes are available for each data source?

Catalog the full details of all fields in each data source. These represent attributes that can be queried and analyzed.

  • What does each field represent semantically? Don't assume that AI will automatically understand.

Semantics are very important. For example, a field called "type" in your data may not refer to product types without a clear explanation.

  • What industry or domain-specific terminology is used in the data? Define these clearly.

Avoid industry jargon and define acronyms. AI has no natural knowledge of your business or industry.

  • What are the relationships between fields or entities in the data?

Documenting relationships such as one-to-many, foreign keys, etc. helps AI understand the interconnectedness of the data.

  • What data validation, cleansing, or preprocessing has been done before?

Informing the AI about any data cleansing provides context on what transformation has taken place.

Document all this information into a "data dictionary" that fully describes your existing data for the AI assistant.

Source: DALL-E 3

Step 2: Convert Analysis into Discrete Steps

Once the data landscape is clear, break down the actual analysis into separate modular steps:

  • What is the ultimate analysis goal we want to enable?

Having a very clear goal guides the entire analysis workflow.

  • Can any basic data extraction or preparation be done before including AI?

Utilize standard SQL queries on the raw data before you need AI input.

  • What parts of the analysis rely on understanding the semantic meaning of fields and not just querying the data?

Separate the parts of the AI that need natural language understanding from simple data extraction.

  • Which intermediate outputs will be useful for the next steps?

Design modular steps so that the output of one stage can feed into the next stage.

Essentially, avoid asking the AI to do everything at once. Turn it into a workflow of separate steps, some involving only data manipulation, some touching the AI.

Source: DALL-E 3

Step 3: Frame and Iteratively Refine Contextual Prompts

Where the AI assistant will be used, frame the prompts carefully to provide sufficient context and examples:

  • Summarize the objectives and data dictionary in the first prompts.

This summary grounds the AI in what data sources are available and the end goal.

  • Provide many examples of the desired inputs and outputs.

Examples help the AI extract the appropriate analysis logic.

  • Use natural language - treat the assistant like a colleague and engage in a dialog.

Colloquial language makes it easier to clarify ambiguities.

  • Expect failures at the beginning! Be ready to iteratively improve prompts.

Prompt drafting is an art that evolves through trial and error.

  • Give feedback to the assistant when the results are wrong and guide him/her interactively.

Active learning through mutual exchange strengthens prompt quality.

  • Chain prompts in a logical workflow, transferring the outputs of one prompt to another.

Linking prompts together creates an end-to-end automated analysis.

Well-framed prompts are critical for success with AI assistants. Treat knowledge prompt creation as an iterative skill that needs to be developed.

Source: DALL-E 3

Step 4: Stress Test with Unusual Data 

Any analytics workflow developed needs to be stress-tested with extreme cases and unusual data inputs:

  • Which inputs can cause problems and break things?

Think about potential problematic inputs and actively evaluate them.

  • Adopt a "break" mentality - be the enemy.

Try to actively fail the analysis by presenting strange test scenarios.

  • Deliberately provide false and problematic data to test the assistant's capabilities.

Using incorrect data can help make the prompts more robust.

  • When errors occur, further refine the prompts to make them stronger.

Use errors as feedback to strengthen the logic and exceptions of the prompts.

  • Plan to improve prompts over time as new unusual situations arise.

The refinement of prompts continues as new situations arise.

Testing models in simulated stress scenarios prepares them to deal with the complexity of real-world data.

Step 5: Expand Data Sources

Don't limit your analysis to a single data source, such as rank tracking. The more diverse signals are available, the better insights the AI can gain:

  • Check what other first-party and third-party data sources might be useful.

New data streams can reveal new dimensions not visible in existing data.

  • Identify both structured (databases) and unstructured (documents) sources.

Both raw data and textual corpora are valuable for analysis.

  • Bring additional sources into your data lake using ETL tools like AirByte.

Combining more data into a single repository provides a 360-degree view.

  • Make sure the AI assistant has access to new data streams.

Renew data access permissions as new sources are added.

More data provides more fuel for AI to uncover nuances.

Step 6: Democratize with No-Code Tools

Using no-code ETL tools like AirByte, even non-engineers can prepare data for AI-powered analysis without the need for a developer:

  • Marketing analysts can connect to data sources and organize data streams.

You don't need to know code to take advantage of new data sources.

  • Simple drag-and-drop interfaces mask coding complexity.

Low/no-code user interfaces provide access to non-technical users.

  • Documentation and communities provide support for getting started.

Help resources help newcomers get value quickly.

  • This democratization unlocks productivity for business teams.

Wider access enables more people to benefit from AI.

You don't need to have a lot of technical skills to start using AI and data streams.

Step 7: Maintain Focus on the End Goal

Finally, persistently focus on achieving the ultimate goal of analysis while resisting the temptation to take shortcuts:

  • Don't throw unstructured data at the assistant hoping for magic.

Organized, well-understood data yields much better results.

  • Be diligent about explaining the data and providing examples.

Take the time to frame the context well for AI.

  • Be patient to iteratively refine prompts.

Prompt tuning is an iterative journey - expect multiple cycles.

  • Stress test with edge cases.

Stress testing minimizes surprises in later stages.

  • Continuously expand data sources.
  • More diverse data generates deeper insights.

Adhering to this structured methodology is key to getting the most out of AI assistants for effective data analysis.


We hope this blog post will serve as a step-by-step guide to achieving successful data analysis results with AI. If you need any help getting started, you can always reach out to us. The future is full of possibilities when humans and AI work together effectively! For AI solutions that make business life easier, watch the videos from our Digitalzone Exclusive: Generative AI event videos on our YouTube channel and contact us here for detailed information about our Generative AI services!