The Role of a Data Analyst: An Introduction

The industrial revolution fades into history and we now find ourselves in the modern digital age. In this new world, as technology evolves, data increases at a non-linear rate.

Properly understanding and interpreting this data is absolutely vital for businesses to remain competitive, and this is where the skill set of Data Analysts is invaluable.

Why is there a need for Data Analysts?


Moore’s law has, since 1965, inspired innovation in the electronics industry. Moore demonstrated how computing would dramatically increase in power, and decrease in relative cost, all at an exponential rate – he said that overall processing power for computers would double every 2 years.

This has proved to be the case and means businesses are experiencing significant growth in the data they produce, which is somewhat overwhelming and utterly useless unless harnessed and analyzed properly.

Businesses need a way to preform data analysis as they need to interpret the mountain of data they amass. A new science has therefore emerged which is only becoming more and more important as technology evolves.

A lot of companies have a skills gap for people who can answer questions about their data, and many industries are becoming defined by big data and analytics.

In part, the systems these businesses use create the need for data analysts, as data is often stored in a way that is difficult for non-technical employees to access and understand.

What does a Data Analyst do?


A Data Analyst gathers the company’s data, interprets it, analyses it robustly, and presents recommendations to the business so that it can make decisions in a risk-controlled way.

From a business perspective, Data Analysts help decision makers shift from ad-hoc analysis to understanding and using data to minimize the chance of unwise initiatives, to bring continued and current business improvements.

Data Analysts go beyond the task of a qualitative analyst because they can take a mass of unstructured data and get it into a form that can be understood.

Data Analysts also differ from a data management expert, because they are skilled at turning unstructured data into a structured form and presenting it.

What skills do they need?


Data Analysts often have a background, interest, or skills in all or some of the following: math, statistics, probability, coding, and computer science. A feel for business affairs, customer empathy, and communication skills are also very important.

Data Analysts possess an intense curiosity, they want to go beneath the surface and drill down into the details, then refine a clear set of propositions that can be tested.

Data Analysts can create storytelling with data, both verbally and visually. When they make discoveries from the data they are studying, Data Analysts need to be able to communicate what they have learned and advise on the implications of the data for the business.

Often they need to make recommendations on ways the data can help inform business decisions. Data Analysts are able to explain the patterns that they find and make their analysis clear and compelling.

The world needs more Data Analysts 


Data Analysts are one of the most in-demand jobs in the modern technological world of business. Their skill sets are unique, and they are a new key player in organizations as the amount of data increases and the value of the emphasis on harnessing and understanding data continues to grow.

To become a Data Analyst yourself, be sure to check out the OpenClassrooms Data Analyst Career Path. Become job-ready with a bachelor’s-level diploma earned in an average of 12 months.

OC find out more

Also read: Why now is the time to pursue a career in data.

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