‘The Principles of Scientific Management’ was voted the most influential management book of the twentieth century by fellows of the Academy of Management in 2001. The book was written by a little someone called Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1911 in order to sum up his techniques of efficiency. He was among the first of the management consultants and he is the person behind the formal establishment of business management and in effect business analytics as a discipline. Mr. Taylor monitored the supply lines at Henry Ford’s factory and measured the time taken to build each component as well as the bodily movement of the labourers in the process. This incident is often referred to as the first modern instance of business analysis. Although we can easily trace it back to the era of the cave men who first invented a primordial system of keeping records of their possessions. Anyway, let us not delve that deep into the prehistoric past and look at the present.
Business analytics, analysis and analysts
The ambiguity of the terms related to business analytics are enough to start a riot among the savvy people. The first thing to remember is that the buzz does not follow etymology. The buzz can easily erase the thin line between the jobs of a business analyst and a business analytics professional. It will render the difference between business analytics and business intelligence obscure and if possible equate business analytics with big data analytics. Now, these terms are confused, interchangeably used and abused, and misinterpreted because they are related to each other. But to what extent, we will learn.
Business analytics is referred to as the sum of the tools, techniques, skills, and practices for the iterative and exploratory investigation of the data related to the performance of a business to draw insights and create a plan for the future. So, the discipline is rooted into the past and aims to exercise some control over the future.
On the surface the job profile of a business analyst would line up perfectly with the discipline of business analytics. However, the reality is different. A business analytics professional may have to engage in the collection and analysis of large amounts of data in order to draw insights about the business. A business analyst looks at the past records and manages the requirements and reports the current state of business. A business analyst is likely to practise business intelligence rather than business analytics.
The overlapping roles
We have invested a fair bit of space for distinguishing various terms related to business analytics. Now, what we must understand is that the task which is to be performed by a certain individual does not necessarily depend on the formal designation of that person. Therefore in today’s culture of startups and bootstrap endeavours, the line between business analytics professional, business analyst, and data analyst is often erased. Thus a business analyst whose designation suggests that he or she would look at some tables and report on how the business is doing, might have to get involved in the process of building predictive models for behavioural analysis of the consumer base.
The primary responsibilities of a business analytics professional in today’s scenario include
- Monitoring data from different sources.
- Locating glitches in the business processes
- Presenting the findings in an easily comprehensible manner
- Keeping track of requirements
- Connecting the technological team with the business management
And this is not a n exhaustive list.
The repertoire of a modern BA professional
The roles and responsibilities of a modern business analyst necessitates a thorough learning of various different aspects of both business and analytics. Undergoing business analytics training should make you conversant with tools like MS Excel, SQL, Tableau, R etc.
MS Excel is a tool from 1985 which we all have used or learnt at some point of time. Excel can be still used as a pretty efficient tool for data representation and minor data analysis. The various functions and pivot tables are actually quite enabling.
Once you have mastered MS Excel, it is a good idea to learn SQL. It makes you more independent as a professional. You can make your own queries not depending on someone else to code for you.
Tableau can be your best friend when it comes to visualizing the data. It really makes the job easy for the user. The dashboards in Tableau allow the stakeholders to interact with the visualization. Learning R can help you mature as an analyst as you work your way into statistical analysis