The Big Data Analyst's Skillset
If the Big Data Scientist is king, the Big Data Analyst is its servant. A big data scientist requires a wide range of skills and capabilities in order to, among others, mash up and analyse different data sources. The big data analyst primarily works with data in a given system and performing analysis on that data set. The big data analyst helps the big data scientist performing the necessary jobs.
A big data analyst requires a different skill set and capabilities, and in general a big data analyst’s next step can be that of a big data scientist. A big data analyst therefore needs to have similar skills to a big data analyst. A big data analyst needs to be able to support the business and management with clear and insightful analyses on the data at hand. This includes data mining skills (including data auditing, aggregation, validation and reconciliation), advanced modelling techniques, testing and creating and explaining results in clear and concise reports.
The big data analyst should have a broad understanding and have experience with real-time analytics and business intelligent platforms such as Tableau Software. He or she should be able to work with SQL databases and several programming languages and statistical software packages such as R, Java, MatLab or SPSS. At least basic knowledge of working with Hadoop and MapReduce should be present. Using scripting languages a big data analyst should be able to develop new insights from the available data.
The testing skills of a big data analyst are particular important. A big data analyst should be able to perform A/B testing based on different hypotheses to directly and indirectly impact different Key Performance Indicators. In order to perform such tests as well as build the reports that senior management needs, a big data analyst should have certain business acumen. A big data analyst should know what drives an organisation, which factors influence a company’s strategy and how the available data within an organisation can contribute to the success of a strategy.
The personality traits needed for a big data analyst are similar like a big data scientist. He or she needs to have a certain curiosity to dive into the available data and enjoy searching for patterns that could indicate new insights. They need to be confident and independent to use very large data sets and to come up with the questions that can help creating management reports. Big data analysts generally have a Bachelor’s Degree ranging from mathematics, statistics, and computer science to business administration, economics or finance.
In addition, a big data analyst should have at least some of the following capabilities:
- Strong interpersonal, oral and written communication and presentation skills;
- Ability to communicate complex findings and ideas in plain language
- Being able to work in teams towards a shared goal;
- Ability to change direction quickly based on data analysis;
- Enjoying discovering and solving problems;
- Proactively seeking clarification of requirements and direction; take responsibility when needed;
- Being able to work in stressful situation when insights in (new) data sets is required quickly.
The big data analyst supports the business and the big data scientist in delivering valuable insights. The big data analyst should therefore enjoy working with others and have the willingness to learn more. For each organisation, a big data analyst will of course need different specialized skills, but in general the above-mentioned skills are a good starting point for finding the right big data analyst.
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Mark van Rijmenam is Co-founder and CEO of Datafloq. Datafloq is the One-Stop Shop around Big Data. We are the number one Big Data platform connecting Data and People, connecting all stakeholders in the global Big Data market. Mark is a strategist who advises organisations on how to develop their big data strategies. As such, he is a well sought after speaker on this topic. His book “Think ...