Data Analysts perform a very important function within many different types of businesses. They can work with sales data, consumer behaviour data, marketing data, internal financial data, and much more to produce meaningful insights and help shape strategic business decisions that will encourage growth for the entire organisation.
Their day-to-day responsibilities may include gathering data from multiple tools, departments or software. From there they produce reports that can be for internal use or for clients. These reports give insightful data about management information, consumer trends and areas for companies to improve on. Data Analysts need to be both analytical in their mindset and have a mind for telling a story as their data reporting needs to be understandable to people who may not be as data literate, this involves a level of creativity coupled with logic.
Most Data Analysts are educated to bachelor’s degree level in a highly IT-related course like computer sciences, information management, mathematics, business information systems or statistics. Post-graduate qualifications aren’t usually required but they are available, subjects include MSc Data Science, MSc Business Analytics, MSc Data Science and Analytics, MSc Big Data. On the job, Data Analysts need to be extremely detail-oriented and be able to creatively handle data, this requires a mixture of technical and soft skills.
There are many roles that are similar to a Data Analyst and it often depends on the priorities of the individual organisation or the demands of the market they operate in. Some of these include:
A Business Intelligence (BI) Analyst uses data to document market and business trends for companies to assess and adjust their strategy to ensure profitability and growth. They are specifically looking at the big picture for a company with its short and long-term projections and forecasts in mind. They can work on a permanent basis within the organisation or on a consultancy basis.
Data Scientists have strong statistical and maths skills and are able to funnel their understanding of large amounts of data into tangible business decisions and insight. They are also heavily IT-literate and use their insight to make beneficial updates to internal systems or technology as they are usually proficient in coding in at least one computer language.