Data Analyst: Does Everybody Need To Be One? - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Comments
Data Analyst: Does Everybody Need To Be One?
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
pfretty494
100%
0%
pfretty494,
User Rank: Moderator
1/29/2015 | 5:24:42 PM
Simple answer
Absolutely not. However, it is important that everyone within the organization understands and respects the importance of data. The key to big data success is to be able to not only build the models, but put insights into action. The best results occur when an organization is able to build and nurture a truly analytical culture. 

Peter Fretty, IDG blogger working on behalf of SAS
D. Henschen
50%
50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
1/29/2015 | 6:04:49 PM
Re: Simple answer
That "analytical culture" is the really hard part. In my view it can't be purely bottom up or top down. Collaboration is key. Facebook has talked about a blended structure, with analytics leaders embedded within lines of business but also reporting up to a centralized analytics leader, so the organization avoids duplicative projects and everyone can learn from successes and failures pursued by inidividual business units. Analytics leaders in business units could help teams and individuals with best practices for dashboards and reports and making available trusted data.
shamika
50%
50%
shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 9:22:53 AM
Re: Simple answer
@Henschen, I agree with you. It is a good idea to have their analysis based on the individual business units. It will add more value than centralizing everything.
Susan_Nunziata
50%
50%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
1/31/2015 | 10:41:05 PM
Re: Simple answer
@pfretty949: Developing the kind of analytical culture you're talking about is easier said than done. I've seen many bad business decisions made by people who felt they had the "right" data to support their preconceived notions without recognizing that they were injecting their own biases. Or, perhaps they DID recognize this and it was precisely the point. Nobody likes to hear that the data doesn't support their goals or strategies. A lot of education will be needed to create a truly sustainable analytical culture in any organization.
Joe Stanganelli
100%
0%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
2/3/2015 | 2:53:39 AM
Re: Simple answer
@Susan: Reminds me of Moneyball (one of my favorite books ever).  An entire culture infused with "old thinking" by the same people shuffled around from organization to organization regardless of actual performance, threatened and disrupted by people who actually thought to look at the numbers.

One of my favorite anecdotes from that book involves a telling of a sabremetrician's analysis of how a stadium remodel will impact a particular team (I think it was the Houston Astros, but I forget because it's been so long since I've read the book).  His findings: "Sorry, if you make these changes, you lose more games."  His study was highly controversial in the organization and was buried, instead of acted upon -- because upper management had already decided that they wanted to make the proposed stadium changes so that there would be more homeruns and thus cause more excitement for fans.
asksqn
50%
50%
asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2015 | 5:34:25 PM
Not a requirement but valuable, nonetheless
Not necessary to be a data analyst, but certainly very helpful in the ability to parse/interpretet the data. 
Joe Stanganelli
IW Pick
100%
0%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
1/29/2015 | 9:50:31 PM
Priorities
Mamet put it best: "The boat needs to look like a boat.  The sail doesn't need to look like a boat."
shamika
50%
50%
shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 9:08:10 AM
Re: Priorities
"Making the analysis intelligent is just as important as making analytics accessible and easy to use". I like this statement. Most analysts pay less attention this aspect.
Li Tan
50%
50%
Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
2/3/2015 | 2:43:54 AM
Re: Priorities
The basic requirement for data analytics is that it can reveal valuable result. The tool should be accessible and easy to use but all these would be vain if there is no valuable result available.
jries921
50%
50%
jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
2/7/2015 | 3:23:20 PM
No, but...
Not everyone needs to be a mathematician, computer programmer, scientist, auto mechanic, musician, seamster/seamstress, or any number of other professional specialties either, but all of the above and many more are useful skills to have, even if one has no hope of attaining professional-level competence in any of them.

 
donaldamaccormick
50%
50%
donaldamaccormick,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/9/2015 | 12:56:46 PM
The data-discovery fallacy
Doug, you hit the nail on the head when you say "Organizations have to realize that arming everybody with tools ... won't necessarily unleash a wave of data-driven decisions or, more importantly, correct decisions."

The current cry of "everyone is an analyst these days", is very wide of the mark.

Data-discovery is a key BI technology, and in the hands of experts and power users adds huge value in organization, However simply passing on the same tools to operational end users (who make up the vast majority of an organization) is neither productive or advisable.

Data can help almost everyone in an organization do a better, more productive job. However, expecting them to dig for it themselves is the wrong way to go about it.

I always fall back to two questions :-

1) What do you want your sales teams doing a) selling or b) analysing data ?I have yet to hear the answer "b".

2) When you want a weather forecast (which is a big data, predictive problem) what do you do a) get one with a couple of clicks from a no-training-required web site or b) fire up your data-discovery tool and point it at your weather data lake? Again I have never hears the answer "b" (except from meteorologists, but they are the analysts in this version of the story)

A lot of this comes back to the hi-jacking of the term "self-service". I would (strongly) argue that getting a weather forecast from your favourite web site is self-service information delivery, but there is no hint of a self-service BI tool in sight.

In fact, if you think about it, self-service in everyday life means the opposite to what it does in BI. After all if you go to a self-service restaurant, you are not shown into the kitchen to cook your food, instead you choose from a convenient selection of pre-prepared offerings.

BI teams have a lot to learn about end-user BI from the fast food industry :-)

 

 


2020 State of DevOps Report
2020 State of DevOps Report
Download this report today to learn more about the key tools and technologies being utilized, and how organizations deal with the cultural and process changes that DevOps brings. The report also examines the barriers organizations face, as well as the rewards from DevOps including faster application delivery, higher quality products, and quicker recovery from errors in production.
News
Think Like a Chief Innovation Officer and Get Work Done
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  10/13/2020
Slideshows
10 Trends Accelerating Edge Computing
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  10/8/2020
News
Northwestern Mutual CIO: Riding Out the Pandemic
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  10/7/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
[Special Report] Edge Computing: An IT Platform for the New Enterprise
Edge computing is poised to make a major splash within the next generation of corporate IT architectures. Here's what you need to know!
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll