The word ‘analyst ‘is derived from the term ‘analysis’ which means to thoroughly examine the elements or structure of something. Analysts are people who are always looking for the details, the bigger picture, delving into the deeper meaning behind a set of facts or figures. In today’s world where Big Data rules supreme, good analysts are the need of the hour.
The purpose of data analysis is to reveal objective answers about an issue. However, effective data analysis requires the person doing the job must be curious, analytical and abstract. The person must understand the question, answer, and means to get to the answer. An effective analyst is one who understands how best to extract perfect information from imperfect data. But all those are broad traits. Here are what we think are some of the most discerning qualities of a good data analyst!
Loves playing with numbers: Point-blank, the most important trait for this job. It’s the single characteristic that differentiates a job from a career. A big data analyst must have a knack for numbers. Even if he isn’t naturally good at them, he must be interested in learning more about them. This is arguably the only personality trait on this list that cannot be cultivated. You either have it or you don’t.
Curiosity: Another crucially important trait in a good data analyst. While knowledge and technical abilities are important, it is especially important to be curious about how things work and why. A curious data analyst is most valuable because they seek to understand the world, not just develop reports; they seek to reveal truth that lie behind a set of patterns, not just answers. When determining if an analyst has what it takes to be a good fit for the role, it’s important to determine if they are curious enough to dig for the answers you need.
Skeptical: This doesn’t necessarily have to be negative, but you must have the ability to question your data. Truth be told, no data collection process is flawless so it often benefits you to take a step back and ask questions about the findings. If you’ve been too immersed in the data at a surface level, it could help you get a larger-picture perspective.
Ability to recognize value: This comes down to knowing what’s important and what’s not. You don’t have all the time in the world. So you need the ability to decipher what’s critical to the objectives of the study and what isn’t.
Capable of spotting patterns: The ability to spot trends or themes in the data. Spotting the data patterns takes a unique eye. Oftentimes, this doesn’t materialize as quickly as the analyst would like for it to. At such times, patience is key.
Methodical: You can’t spot trends or recognize value in data unless you are systematic in your approach to it. A good analyst can create a step-by-step approach and run through an internal checklist of what has to be done on a data set.
Self-motivated: This translates to being proactive in your analysis. Don’t wait for someone to ask, “Why?”. Have the motivation to take the first step and explore data on your own and find some answers out by yourself.
Taking interest in your job, being methodical, personally motivated… all of these are almost generic traits that people look for in a potential candidate at every job interview. So, how are these going to be able to help you figure out if there is analyst hidden in you? It’s essentially the natural flair for data, logic, statistics, curiosity – all of these are the really important traits. The others characteristics, if they aren’t readily known to you as some of your skills, will follow suit!
And if you don’t believe that or want to rubbish it away as some lengthy yarn, then stop and think for a moment. Were you ever interested in a game as mundane and maddening as book cricket? Or even thought about how analytics could change the face of cricket? Gaurav Vohra, the CEO of Bangalore based analytics training company, was once thought to be a geek because he was obsessed with book cricket. That could well be a sign of a born analyst! It’s now time to see if your geeky trait could land you a coveted spot in the hottest industry today- Data Analytics.