Using business goals to identify data analysts


The value of data has transformed many organisations today. In my view, organisations now have a better understanding that if data is used correctly, it can add great value to overall business and bottom line. In fact, according to recent research I came across, 46 percent of organisations have said that they are increasing their headcount for data analysts this year. This is great news, because businesses need people that understand the language of data. However, prior to organisations looking for the ‘right’ data analyst or team for their business, they still need to get to the core reasons around what they would like to get out of their business data, to ensure this expert adds real value.

Think about it for a moment – as a business representative, do you want quicker access to your company’s data to be able to make better and more informed decisions, or do you need it to navigate reporting systems better? The answers to these questions will steer your business into the right direction when it comes to deciding on a data team or expert. Thomas Schutz, senior vice president and general manager at Experian Data Quality explains this concept better – he refers to this as setting your goals or having a strategy in place, before hiring, as a key first step to this process – and notes that following this step will go a long way for the business. It makes the process a lot easier.

‘When hiring a data analyst, it is important to first define how granular you’d like to get when analysing your data. If your interests are in identifying high-level trends such as user engagement or activity, a potential candidate would need less technical expertise – and be a cheaper resource to recruit – than a candidate who would be expected to analyse vast amounts of data to build predictive models.’

After setting your data goals, you can then identify or choose the ‘right’ data analyst or team. This is normally done by the C-level management, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Data Officer (CDO), with the support of the Human Resources department and/or sometimes the Chief Executive Officer. During this hiring process, there are two important aspects to look at. These include:

 Knowledge and experience

Depending on the business goal for data, the expert being hired must have great knowledge and experience in this area. If, for example, data protection is your goal, the data analyst or data team must have a deep understanding within this space. This means they must have insight into subject areas such as, data privacy, privacy laws, processes and so on. In fact, they must understand these areas well enough to handle any problem that may rise or any complexity that may occur related to this area of data. They should be able to show their knowledge and aptitude for directing technical and organisational structures, when they explain difficult terms or problems to employees at all levels of the organisation and sometimes to people outside the organisation as well.

Data evangelist

Depending on whether your goal for data is on the technical or business side, you still need to ensure that the data analyst is a skilled communicator with ‘softer’ skills. This means the data analyst must fully understand the broader organisation, to be able to tailor the data analysis message in a way that the company will actually understand – for them to accept the findings. The messages must be relevant from person to person (and of course for the relevant departments), to be effective and understood across the entire business.

Concluding remarks

While it is clear that data can provide many benefits to a business, hiring a good data analyst with the ‘right’ skill set and the ‘right’ understanding of the organisation must be a key focus for business decision makers – in order for data to truly show good results. The future of data and analytics to my mind certainly looks bright and something that I am delighted about, being so passionate about the role data plays within business.

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