Most Impactful Ways To Becoming a Great Analyst

As a follow up to a survey I sent to several hundred of my LinkedIn connections a few months back. I sent the survey to connections working with data analytics on a regular basis.

I told them I was talking with a young professional just getting started in his analytics career. During our conversation we discussed what is most important to being a great analyst. I asked for their opinion, of the following ways to learn about analytics, which one has been the most important in your career path?

  1. Formal Education – A degree or certificate in an analytics related field.
  2. Self-Learning – Using trial and error and online resources.
  3. Subject Matter Experts – Being trained/mentored by an expert.
  4. Seminars/Workshops – Attending events to acquire new knowledge.
  5. Technical Training – Attend training on specific technical areas.
  6. Other – Please provide a brief description

 

Here are some pearls of wisdom from some of the replies I got… keep in mind these are all from well established analytics professionals:

“the most important in my career path is self-learning as most of the things we’re doing like journal reading and implementing algorithms needs less dependency with the people you are working with but requires collaboration with them and this requires you to solve problems by yourself and implement things by yourself but communicate them properly to the people you’re working with.”

If you don’t have the drive to do this, you will be an analyst in name only.

“Self-Learning – Using trial and error and online resources. World changes too fast for any of those others to matter.”

In the 15 years I have been doing analytics without any formal education in data-related fields I can say that this is 100% true. To be a great analyst you have to always been learning.

“your ability to tell the story behind all the numbers will make you an indispensable asset and an outlier in the increasingly growing population of analysts. Management almost always don’t have the time to read all the numbers in tables, spreadsheets, and reports, but they will surely appreciate instantly seeing the big picture presented in a “one-pager” report prepared by analysts. That almost always makes an analyst “great” in the eyes of the report consumers.”

Yes! If what you spend your blood, sweat and tears on does influence decisions, then you are working on the wrong place.

#2 and #3 have been important. Having a mentor to coach you side by side gives you accountability to progress in your work and learning curve. Naturally, this will push you to self-learn: trying out what you’ve learned and testing.”

Having a mentor is so important to help you get access to the actual learning experiences you need to evolve and excel as an analyst.

“spending time with the consumers of the analytics is especially important. Learning how they look at the data, and/or want to look at the data. What is important to them. What really matters. Too much non-essential information and you’ll loose them. Targeting their needs with relevance and precision will win them.”

Another big point that is often overlooked, if you are spending time producing repots and they don’t take customer insights into account, you have a big blindside.

“The most important thing to being a great analyst is to have a great sense of awareness. For me, self-learning has been the most important.”

I cannot imagine anyone being a great analyst if you didn’t have at least a bit of an ego mixed in with a Superman complex. Great analysts live to fix things.

It’s interesting to note that only 2 of the 50+ replies I got form surveying my LinkedIn connections said formal education is the most important.

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Analytics Survey – DMAIPH conducts quarterly analytics surveys to collect data on current trends in analytics. We specialize in surveys that assess analytics culture and measuring how aligned an organization is to using data and analytics  in its decision-making. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly to find out more about how DMAIPH can conduct surveys to help you assess the analytics culture in your business.

 

 

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The Analytics of Project Measurement

Peter Drucker perfectly summed up why big corporations rely so heavily on analytics when he said “What gets measured, gets managed.”

A successful analyst is able to remove the noise when analyzing data and isolate what matters to his or her organization.

With most companies collecting large amounts of data, you need to be both talented and disciplined to pinpoint key insights that can yield value.

In the corporate world, business analytics is widely use to track, analyze and report Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

KPIs are rolled up to senior leadership to drive business strategy, identify and mitigate risk and to optimize operational productivity.

This approach is very similar to the way projects in the Measurement and Evaluation are tracked, analyzed and reported.

I would define measurement simply as the act of measuring to ascertain the impact, size, level of success, etc. of a specific data set.

There are many components to measuring projects making sure the project is on schedule, stays in scope, is not over budget, the quality of work is up to par, the end goal of the project remains relevant, and finally if the project is ultimately deemed a success.

A foundation in analytics will contribute to a more optimal and efficient process of measurement. Like businesses do with KPIs, you should start will identifying that are the key measurements your project will be judged on.

Once you know those data points, then figure out how to collect them, analyze them, and report them.

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At each step you can look for new data, validate existing data and blend data from other sources to add value to your measurement efforts.

Once you get to the reporting phase you can look for cutting edge techniques in data visualization and interactive reporting like dashboards to help educate and empower your audience.

That is how it is done in the corporate world where business analysts boil down massive amounts of big, often unstructured data into a few bullet points that allow decision-makers to take action.

When it comes to the Measurement of Project Evaluation, understanding various analytics solutions can make all the difference.

Analytics Education – Facilitating a mastery of the fundamentals of analytics is what DMAIPH does best. All across the world, companies are scrambling to hire analytics talent to optimize the big data they have in their businesses. We can empower students and their instructors with the knowledge they need to prepare for careers in analytics. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can set a guest lecturer date, On-the-Job Training experience or other analytics education solution specifically tailored to your needs.

Measurement and Evaluation: Analytics and Data Driven Decision Making

Recently Worked on a paper for a school… interesting topic…Measurement and Evaluation Analytics and Data Driven Decision Making.

I will also be doing a related webinar this coming Feb 15 entitled Analytics & Data-Driven Decision-Making.

Webinar details:

February 15, 2017

1pm Eastern

Webpage with webinar registration links: http://programs.online.american.edu/msme/webinars

The ability to effectively evaluate projects, programs and processes requires a thorough understanding of analytics.

Analytics is generally defined as the discovery of patterns in data that provides insight and identifies opportunities.

Organizations that invest in analytics generally make much better business decisions then one’s that don’t.

In fact, IBM found that organizations who use analytics are up to 10x more efficient and 33% more profitable the ones who don’t.

A good analytics solution constructs a universal framework for collecting, analyzing and using data to determine project effectiveness and efficiency.

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As the amount of data available increases daily, the use of analytics is becoming essential to all levels of an organizational today.

This Big Data allows both deeper analysis but also requires more skill in getting to the right data.

By taking inspiration from the way corporations use business analytics to optimize their Big Data, our program measurement and evaluation processes can be greatly enhanced.

Bringing data together from a variety of sources and integrating the data into the decision-making processes, allows the empowerment of decision-makers to make much more intelligent choices.

When analytics driven leaders possess the practical assessment skills needed to evaluate projects bridging various sectors and industries, they are much more effective then ones that don’t.

In today’s information age, the quick and efficient measurement and evaluation of projects using analytics ensures success with corporate, non-profit and governmental organizations across various sectors and industries.

Analytics Education – Facilitating a mastery of the fundamentals of analytics is what DMAIPH does best. All across the world, companies are scrambling to hire analytics talent to optimize the big data they have in their businesses. We can empower students and their instructors with the knowledge they need to prepare for careers in analytics. Contact DMAIPH now at analytics@dmaiph.com or connect with me directly so we can set a guest lecturer date, On-the-Job Training experience or other analytics education solution specifically tailored to your needs.