Top 7 Skills You Should Have As A Data Analyst


With so many companies today relying heavily on data about their customers, products, processes, inputs and the market, these organizations increasingly need talented and skilled people who can extract information and insight. ideas from data.

But what skills are employers looking? In data analytics, there are certain skills and qualities that employers require of all candidates, whatever the position.

Education will develop some of these skills and abilities. Others can be refined with experience and practice.

Let’s look at some of the best skills below.

Business acumen

If you want your role as a data analyst to be broader and to have more impact, you need to gain a solid understanding of how the business works. Look beyond KPIs and Top 10 Selling Items Last Month.

What is the company’s strategy, what is its position in the market and how does it differentiate itself from its competitors? What are the critical processes in the organization and how are the different products, departments and people connected? Where are the addictions and what are the threats to success?

Although you may not know everything, developing your business knowledge through your work and relationships will make you even more valuable as an analyst.

Business insight will improve your understanding of business data, help you identify warning signs, and find the right people to answer questions and share information with.

Technical know-how

As a data analyst, you work with software, systems and data. Bringing these together in a way that extracts meaningful information from raw data requires technical skills and a willingness to continue to develop those skills to keep pace with the evolution of technology.

A technical understanding based on curiosity and interest will serve you well in this industry. Are you passionate about the idea of ​​using data, analyzing it, shaping it and turning it into visible information? Do you like the idea of ​​taking the raw inputs and turning them into something meaningful to the business (or the audience) that tells a story about a certain topic or finding? It’s a great foundation to build on.

Understanding the data value chain helps you put everything in context. There are many systems and touchpoints involved in the end-to-end process and it will be easier for you to understand how they are connected and who is responsible for which part.

  • Where does the data come from?
  • Why was the data collected, how and by whom?
  • What stages of transformation has he gone through?
  • Where is it stored?
  • How to access it and who has access to it?
  • What tools do you have for analysis?
  • What questions are your stakeholders asking?
  • Who is the audience for your ideas and what actions do they intend to take based on your findings?
  • What happens to your findings once you share them?
  • What impact has your analysis had? Are there visible results in decision making?

communication skills

As a Data Analyst, you not only communicate through and with data, but also with stakeholders, colleagues, data providers, system owners, and many more in the development process. information for decision making.

When sharing information, it’s important to consider the right medium. Is your organization adopting digital, interactive and exploratory dashboards for decision making or do you need to provide documents ready to be printed for ‘proofreading’? Who is your audience and what are they looking for? Where is your audience and how does the language, culture and dispersed geographies influence the way you communicate your results? What are the deadlines for sharing information?

Improving your communication skills, verbally, in writing and through the use of data, will serve you well in the long run.

Stakeholder management skills

Your stakeholders are your customers. Their need for information drives your analysis. Stakeholders are an important piece of the puzzle and the larger the group or the greater its influence, the more difficult it can be to find the solution that meets their needs.

As you work with your stakeholders and gather their needs through discussions, interviews and research, it is important to understand their expectations and manage them in terms of time frame, available data, people and resources.

Show your stakeholders how to use what you have created. On the one hand, it should be intuitive and easy to do, and it is recommended that you include instructions. On the other hand, you can’t predict all the possible paths a user might take through an interactive data visualization, so an introduction for your audience will be helpful.

In your engagement with stakeholders, try to foster an ongoing exchange of ideas and information in order to stay close to their business and their information needs while they receive insight from you about data and information. systems.

Critical mind

Critical thinking involves going (and thinking) beyond this task at hand. When you ask yourself questions like “what does this mean?” “And” what impact could this have on process x? You start to think outside the box and dive deeper into the data in front of you.

Examination of outliers should always prompt further investigation. What does a spike in the data indicate? Is it an insignificant anomaly or is it something important that you need to evaluate further?

Visual analysis can support your critical thinking processes because it allows you to look at data from different angles in a short period of time. When you find a particularly interesting data point, you can easily and quickly investigate it using different types of charts, introducing time dimensions or details about other parts of the business to give you a new perspective. view.

Exploring different angles for the same situation helps you answer some of your questions and assess whether you should go further. See yourself as a researcher and an investigator.

Presentation skills

Many analysts can share their work digitally with large and large audiences at the click of a button. There are times, however, where you need to present your ideas and reports in person to a live audience.

For this reason, it is important to hone these skills, so that your findings are shared effectively, in a polite manner. A clear structure that is easy to follow and communicates key information in a logical order sets the right tone. During your presentation, focus on what’s important and know how to navigate the interactive dashboards.

A very useful approach is to not limit your answers to the obvious questions that led to your analysis in the first place, but also to anticipate potential follow-up questions. It comes down to knowing and understanding your business and your stakeholders. What interests them, what are their priorities and dependencies right now?

Having answers to questions they might ask is very helpful during Question Time. And if you don’t have the answer, be prepared with a follow-up process you can offer them. Know how and when you can find and share the answers to their follow-up questions.

Preparation is essential and listening to your stakeholders and anticipating their needs will help you build your credibility and brand internally.

Data visualization skills

It doesn’t matter which tool you use and whether you share information digitally or on a whiteboard. Being able to paint a full picture that shows what is going on is a very important skill to have.

It can be as simple as drawing a process flow on a whiteboard. Many disagreements can be resolved when there is an image that serves as a starting point.

You will often communicate your ideas in a report, interactive dashboard, or chart. To do this in the most efficient way, make sure you choose the right type of chart for the data, and design your work in such a way that it shows the main conclusions clearly and quickly.

Pay attention to the context: declaring numbers in isolation can make them less meaningful. How do they relate to previous periods, to other departments, to industry benchmarks? Put the results into perspective to guide your audience on whether they are good or bad and if and to what extent action is needed. Familiarize yourself with data visualization best practices and apply them where possible.

Your journey begins now

Congratulations on your choice to enter the analytics industry. Working with data and helping organizations improve their decision-making processes is an exciting field that offers many career opportunities.

To start improving your skills, identify some areas in this article and set realistic goals for working in them. Professional growth and development takes time and you won’t reach the next level overnight, but it all starts with the first step, so all the best for your career as an analyst.

Sean N. Ayres