The role of a business analyst is one of the most crucial of any jobs in the data sector. The position requires a keen mind, not only to identify trends within existing data sets but help establish solutions and explain what is behind the data patterns themselves.
Analytics has become one of the fastest-growing job sectors of the last few years. According to The Royal Society, demand for specialist business analysts rose by 231% between 2014 and 2019 alone. And while the basics of data analytics may be enough for you to rule the roost at your current company, there are five critical skills that could put you a cut above your competition when looking for a new job. Read on to learn what the team at Salt think is required to be a great data analyst.
A good data analyst should be able to easily explain and justify every decision they make, based on the cold hard facts of the data they have gathered and interpreted. You can have as much acumen as you like, but without the ability to put together a comprehensive data strategy — which explains to your c-suite what the outcome of this information could be — and analytics roadmap — which provides actionable next steps — all of that data will be useless. Having a well-organised approach is an essential skill for any data analyst to prove the benefits of their work, and their place, in a company.
Analysing data is a complex role and, as the expert in the team, you should expect to field a range of questions from your colleagues to help them understand the work you do. Take the time to answer their questions, and explain how you gathered and interpreted all of the relevant data. Giving them this information as clearly and patiently as you can will make their job easier, and foster a collaborative spirit to the work your team does going forward.
To some degree, this goes hand in hand with being approachable. No matter how obvious the answers may seem to you, you can’t begrudge co-workers for not having the same level of data analyst skills and understanding as you. But this applies just as much to your own work as well. A skilled data analyst will never be blindsided by experience — you should always look for something that could disprove your findings or improvements to your tried-and-tested methods.
Although you may be an expert at the platforms, languages, or software you need to do your job, you should still embrace the unfamiliar, whether in the form of CMS systems, social media management tools, or analytics software. In the data analytics sector, it’s guaranteed that you will need to learn new tools in this industry. And since finding correlations and causal relationships should be your strength, you should have an innate curiosity about the company and its functions, which will help you interpret intriguing data.
Be pro-digital, but not digital-only
Increasingly, the best data analysts will need to have a head for big data and be willing to get their hands dirty. However, many computer programs will try to simplify this information, which can result in important information being lost and key calculations becoming inaccurate. If your current employer is not training you on how to use a range of data store systems such as Cassandra, MongoDB, or Hadoop, then install them on your personal computer and sign up for online tutorials. Perhaps even download some free datasets (Twitter data being a hot favourite) and start cracking some real-world problems.