Data Analyst: The brain of big data

by Sabine Steiner in — October 2018
The Data Analyst is one of the most sought-after profiles on the job market. Let’s see what a Data Analyst does and what skills they must have.

The person in charge of this role has the duty of identifying, on a daily basis, the behaviours of customers, consumers and products by performing data analysis. They have to be able to sort out the so-called Big Data that the digital transformation manages to obtain, organize the information gathered and prepare specific reports to be handed over to the different company departments: from Marketing to Production. We have to keep in mind that 90% of data available today have been gathered over the course of the past two years and, probably, we will be collecting much more of them in the future. As long as people use technology, Data Analysts will be sought after by businesses.

Blog 2018 Data Analyst2

The job of a Data Analyst doesn’t merely consist in gathering and filing numbers but also in communicating aggregated information to other departments in order to ease the work of those who will be using such data. The output of a Data Analyst’s job is helpful throughout different business units and functions of a company. The reports are prepared for and provided to main stakeholders – from manager level to engineers, from marketers to product managers. Therefore, an extreme affinity for numbers as well as excellent communication capabilities are two very important features of a Data Analyst, even if it is often difficult to find candidates who possess both these skills together. The huge advantage, given by the ability to collect large amounts of data thanks to constantly developing technologies, must not become a frenetic obsession – data collection needs to be approached in a calm manner, paying attention to detail while keeping the focus on main objectives.

The basic requirement for this role is a passion for reporting and being familiar with chart and table visualisation software. The Data Analyst is becoming a key role in companies because, due to their knowledge of metrics and performance, they are able to support management with performance analyses and work planning. In organisations which do not operate under well-established systems, the Data Analyst has to develop, implement and automate all processes related to data gathering and extraction at all different stages, from production to sales. As already outlined, the task of a Data Analyst also consists of communicating the result of his analyses in an efficient manner through written and illustrated reports, programmed emails and periodic meetings.

In a nutshell, here are the requirements for the role of Data Analyst:

  1. Analytical skills: Data Analysts have to be able to process and analyse numbers in order to identify tendencies.
  2. Communication skills: Data Analysts are requested to present their results in an understandable document by transforming figures into clear words.
  3. Critical thinking: The person in charge of this role will need to look at numbers, tendencies and data and elaborate conclusions based on results from his analyses.
  4. Attention to detail: They have to show a high ability to concentrate and analyse facts in depth
  5. Mathematical skills: They need to have an aptitude for calculating and estimating numerical data.

According to the WorldEconomic Forum the Data Analyst will become one of the eight most sought-after roles by the end of 2020. In Italy there is a lack of skills for this job and therefore people talk of a digital mismatch.

The statistics speak for themselves and show significant work opportunities for young students who will turn towards studies with content such as statistics, economics, mathematics, engineering management and IT. Faculties are starting to offer data science courses at Italian universities also: In Rome Tor Vergata, Bologna and Pisa but also at the Bocconi University of Milan, in Siena and Trieste. The Iulm University of Milan has introduced a course on Big Data, infographics and data visualisation. The job of a Data Analyst gives very attractive career prospects for anyone who is starting in the labour market as well as for career changers. Those who manage to combine the technical aspects of data analysis with the propensity to communicate efficiently will find great satisfaction in the role of a Data Analyst.