Among the most sought after professionals in recent years, the data analyst (or business analyst) is the trend setter. According to recent estimates for the decade 2016-2026 in fact, demand for experts in that field is expected to rise by:
- 14% in the administrative sector;
- 14% in finance;
- 9% in the IT sector.
Some forecasts suggest that even Italy (often behind when it comes to IT sector development compared to most other developed countries) will witness 50% of its SME’s (small and medium enterprises) take on a data analyst within the next three years of trading.
Data analysis is essential to success
The role of the business analyst is crucial, in any company that aims to stay competitive. The analyst has the task of conciliating business projects with real business capacity by mapping the company’s future through the analysis of performance-related data.
The data analyst has the abilities and tools to accurately identify company requirements and identify any inefficiencies. The person in this role is able to suggest alternative ways to make improvements, by providing active support in planning strategies needed to reach pre-established objectives.
The data analyst handles communications with the various lines of business (LOBS) personally, so as to understand their needs. They then deal with any omissions which could compromise the smooth running of business operations.
Through the acquisition of this information, the data analyst then proceeds to set targets for improvement, by using historic process data, as well as the most advanced IT intelligence software.
This allows the data analyst to trace a clear strategy for the company and to offer hypothetical solutions (such as introducing a new business model, reviewing organisational systems or adopting suitable IT solutions). They also focus on the development of a company plan, including budget and project requirements.
Skills to become a data analyst
The role of company data analyst can only be carried out by those who have very specific characteristics. First of all, training for this role must include notions of financial planning, risk management ability and knowledge of statistical analysis. Business management skills are also strongly recommended, such as:
- Problem solving ability;
- Skills in constructing a business plan, starting from the company’s organisational needs (elicitation);
- Listening skills to gather feedback from clients and stakeholders and keep it in mind when developing company strategies (facilitation);
- Thorough knowledge of Sales & Marketing
In addition, it is essential that the aspiring business analyst should be able to use digital instruments required for Visual Modelling. This allows him to transpose the relevant data into detailed graphics, in order to highlight correlations and implications for the company.
Soft skills are also important in this role, such as punctuality when completing jobs, versatility in order to handle sudden changes typical of this profession and also critical thinking which helps to identify the repercussions of a data trend quickly.
Considering the other requirements, it is advisable to complete a degree course in a specific subject area, the most suitable being accounting, finance or business administration. It is also wise to develop IT skills, while gaining practical experience if possible.
In order to further strengthen one’s candidacy when approaching companies, it could also be a good idea to obtain Business Analyst certification from one of the internationally recognised institutions.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith