What makes a great data analyst?

A data analyst’s primary role is to interpret information, find patterns, and report these findings to other people within your company. This information can then be utilised to guide business decisions and next steps. 

But what takes a data analyst from average to great? Here are five traits you can hone that will really help you shine. 

What skills should a data analyst have? 

  1. Understand that there are no perfect answers

You will never have a 100% answer to a question. Where data is involved, there will always be anomalies or external influences. Even if you have cleaned your data exceptionally well, there will be circumstances beyond your control. For example, if you were asked to analyse a campaign’s success, there are numerous possibilities outside the campaign itself that could influence your data. Being aware of this, and looking outside the box as well as inside will help you create better reports and recommendations.

  1. Know when enough is enough

It can be so easy to fall down a rabbit hole when analysing data. Not only that, there will be occasions where you have enough data to back up your theory without spending a ton of additional time trying to get the last bits analysed that won’t really change the outcome. Learning when this is the case can save you time and your client money. However, it may take a while for you to hone this particular skill, but if you can, it will be extremely advantageous for everyone involved.

  1. Continual learning

The very best data analysts are ones that don’t stop learning. As new tools and platforms hit the market, you should be prepared to take the time to understand them and decide whether they would be a good fit for the organisation you work with. 

Whether it’s fine-tuning your current skillset, understanding machine learning or honing your communication skills; if you want to stay ahead of the game, you must be prepared to keep studying no matter how experienced you become.  

  1. Tell a story with your data

With time and experience comes the ability to understand data on a level that a layperson would struggle with. So when it comes to explaining your findings, you must consider your audience; just as you would if you were telling a story. 

Bear in mind that while it’s important to be engaging to maintain your co-workers’ attention and focus, you also need to learn how to deliver enough information but in a short, snappy and straightforward manner.

  1. Understand business operations

You need to understand the data you are working with and your goals. While it may feel as though you are doing an excellent job by producing the reports asked of you, the best data analysts always bear in mind the business implications of their findings. What actions can be taken from the information that can help drive the business forward? What impact will they have on the team and the broader business, and how can you address this in your report? 

Going that extra mile will help the company you work for make better business decisions. It will also provide you with a deeper understanding of the organisation, which will improve your future performance. 

If you are considering a career in data analysis, Developer Academy can help. Our bootcamp will teach you how to clean and analyse data and communicate your findings to the rest of your team. 

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