Any business that regards itself as being “data-driven” needs a data analyst on their team. By bringing critical data together, analysts help organisations to understand performance and implement ways to continuously improve.

The overarching role of a data analyst is to help businesses make well-informed decisions, by analysing data and turning it into actionable insights. It’s a technical role, requiring an understanding of computer programming, mathematics and statistics.

Right now, there’s a global rising demand for data analysts. Analytics have always been key to business growth, but over the last few years, there’s been a greater focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence. While these concepts are shiny and exciting, the value of analytics shouldn’t be underestimated – and businesses are investing more in this area once again.

On a day-to-day basis, a data analyst gathers raw data, cleans it, structures it, interprets it and presents it to business leaders.

Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the web like deer on a freeway.

– GEOFFREY MOORE, MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT AND AUTHOR

The key responsibilities of a business analyst

  • Use tools and programs to gather data and spot patterns.
  • Create clear reports that include narratives that a decision maker can follow.
  • Remove any corrupted or irrelevant data, by assessing its quality.
  • Develop and maintain databases.
  • Assign numerical values to business functions to more easily measure business performance.
  • Analyse wider trends that impact the organisation and industry.

Essential skills, knowledge & experience

  • Structured query language (SQL)
  • Database management
  • Critical thinking
  • Programming languages
  • Data visualisation
  • An understanding of machine learning
  • Mathematics and statistics
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Collaboration skills

Embedding efficiency & adaptation into organisations

Data is a catalyst for positive change, but without an expert who can interpret that data and turn it into a strategy, it’s wasted.

A data analyst provides companies with decision-making insights that can be used for spotting inefficiencies and driving growth. While data tells us about current performance and productivity, it also helps businesses to predict future trends and customer behaviour, to stay ahead of the competition and deliver customer satisfaction, consistently.