Data analysts have now become a critical human resource for every company. Whether they are responsible for simple daily operational reports or for complex ad hoc reports, data analysts are increasingly becoming a core component of the data teams across the organizations. Also known as business analytics professionals, data analysts rely on their knowledge of IT systems, business operations and data acumen to keep the companies informed about key performance indicators.
Data analysts inspect, clean, transform and analyze data with the goal of discovering actionable information. Unlike data scientists they don't use advanced algorithms, but they rely more on their data aggregation, data visualization and reporting skills to inform conclusions and support decision-making. They use specialized analysis techniques and tools to determine how business users or data scientists can use data to make business decisions.
Successful data analysts are those who can extract and analyze data from a variety of sources and then present results to the people responsible for acting on that information. They require a unique balance of data knowledge and business acumen. They are not supposed to know programming languages such as Python or R, but increasingly companies are looking for data analysts who possess at least a basic understanding of data analysis tools.
A data analyst's daily responsibilities may include analyzing business requirements, identifying data sources, source data using simple tools, apply a variety of filters, and perform analysis to ultimately prepare reports including dashboards, graphs, charts and tables. They possess a deep understanding of data structures, SQL and data visualization and reporting tools.
Because of their knowledge of data and its meaning, data engineers and data scientists rely on data analysts to do their jobs. Because of this data analysts are also expected to have a basic understanding of data science and data engineering concepts.
Hiring good data analysts with solid skills in reporting and data visualization is not easy. Because they require strong business skills as well, sometimes its very hard to find the right skilled person for the job.