When business improvement projects fail, poor planning and communication are often to be blamed. This is the main reason why only 30 percent of the business projects are successful.
As more and more companies realise the need to fix outdated processes and adopt newer solutions to stay competitive in the market, business analysts – the fix-it men and women of the corporate world are in high demand.
The job of a business analyst is to comprehend data, explain patterns, showcase trends and offer insights.
Whenever one begins to think about a career in Business Analytics, invariably one thinks about technical skill-set such as data mining, statistical analysis, predictive modelling etc.
These are undoubtedly of utmost importance, but there are also some other equally important skills which are expected from any business analyst like problem-solving, communication, and business understanding.
So, here’s a look at the basic knowledge framework required to make the cut in the Analytics field.
Analytics is not the same as Big Data even though these days they are both mentioned in the same breath.
The role of a business analyst is to sift through, analyse, understand, and extract data to derive meaningful insights. They identify organisational problems and devise data-driven solutions for the same.
Their technical know-how includes:
- Data mining – using querying languages for data mining – A basic knowledge of SQL to fetch, manipulate and summarise the data can go long way here.
- Analytics reporting & Data visualisation – This is one of the key skills Business Analytics professional must have from the beginning. For this, hands-on skills on tools like Excel, Tableau and SAS are sought after and can even get a beginner candidate readily hired.
- Statistical Analysis – This was once a ‘good-to-have’ skill but has now become a strong differentiator when it comes to hiring. Most of the recruiters desire candidates with working knowledge of statistical analysis using tools like SAS/ R/ Python.
- Machine and deep learning – Considering the ever-increasing data volume and business complexity, knowledge of machine learning can be an added advantage for any organisation. Often organisations are ready go extra mile to onboard an Analytics professional with ML skills in conjunction with aforementioned essential skills.
Notably, this is not an exhaustive list as new data tools are updated and invented every day.
Working in tandem with various departments, such as market research, product development, and top-level management, Business Analysts are an integral part of a corporation’s overall strategy – both internally and externally.
Most Analytics’ jobs are client facing roles; thus effective communication is the key to be able to explain the value of the analysis to the final stakeholders.
Analytics findings and solutions can sometimes be counter intuitive, apart from being technically complex, which makes them challenging to communicate, regardless of the audience.
Thus, a business analyst must know how to make reports and presentations that can explain complex technical ideas and methods to an audience of laymen or non-specialists.
Essentially, it is the ability to convey the message effectively in simpler terms, especially to the client, to make them understand the business value of what you have done.
While creative thinking will make you stand out, excellent communication skills will help you climb up the success ladder. Do note that communication here not only relates to verbal and written communication, but also includes structured communication, which helps Analytics professionals in their communication.
Unfortunately, this attribute is often ignored since more focus is always given on technical skills, making good candidates lose in both their interviews as well as at their job front.
It is very important for an Analytics professional to envision how analytics can generate answers or how solutions will fit into the complexities of business world.
Sometimes these problems could be related to business constraints, solution adoption and sometimes even the lack of quality data. A business analysts’ job is a multi-faceted one involving a range of responsibilities.
Problem solving hence is a very important aspect for any Business Analyst.
It is important for analytics professionals to think out-of-the-box and explore how various techniques should be tweaked for their particular situations, how complex problems can be broken into structured smaller pieces to be solved or how the data can be adjusted under their conditions.
Hence the ability to sift and analyse – extracting, understanding and piecing together data necessary for your solution – will make or break any business analyst.
This is such an important aspect that many of best known analytics companies have problem solving round integrated into the interview process, along with technical competency rounds.
Business domain understanding
To understand and fit the value of analytics into any situation, a thorough understanding of business is of utmost importance. Good domain knowledge helps to identify right analytical techniques that can be implemented under various situations.
While the backbone of the analytical techniques are primarily the same, the front packaging changes depending on the industry you deal with For e.g. predicting customer default in banking and predicting customer churn in telecom or predicting campaign uptake rate for e-commerce.
While it comes with experience for sure, we recommend our students, especially if they are freshers, to read about the industry of potential recruiters and develop some understanding of their businesses before interviews.
Also, keep an eye on trends, data environments and new tools, which will always add to your skill sets. Once this is done, you should also think about various ways of how you can fit the various analytics techniques in various business situations which can get you closer to showing your value and belonging to the industry.