Analyzing data can be helpful to a business in a variety of ways. Information generated about an organization’s operations – like sales data, employee data and customer data – can be explanatory, aid in forecasting future sales and can even solve problems and suggest a course of action.
“Data can drive decision making in an informed way,” says Kellie Wutzke, adjunct professor at City University of Seattle. “Instead of merely observing a trend (sales have declined), data analytics enables a company to dive deeper (which product sales are lagging? In which geographical regions? By which customer demographics?).”
By collecting a large volume of information and filtering it through various algorithms, businesses may be able to improve their bottom line, Wutzke says. This can be done by improving forecasting, operating more efficiently and/or optimizing their website to increase sales and keep customers engaged all the way from browsing through purchasing.
Data analytics can reveal new insights that help businesses, says Deanne Larson, principal faculty at CityU.
“New insights concerning customer behavior, for example, allow businesses to drive outcomes,” Larson says. “Analytics help identify patterns and trends that lead to identifying predictions.”
The possibilities are endless, notes Wutzke.
A variety of professionals will be needed to put data through its paces. Positions include operations research analysts, data analysts, data engineers and data scientists, and others, she Wutzke.
“The field of data analytics has been growing for 10 years and continues to be in demand,” explains Larson. “Hundreds of positions are listed on Linkedin and other sites in the field.”
New position salaries can start around $85,000 and reach up to $135,000, Larson says. The industry you work in determines where you’ll land on the salary spectrum. High-tech fields tend to pay at the higher end, she says.
A good way to prepare for a career in analytics is to gain a background in programming, algorithms, statistics and visualization, says Larson. These are the foundations for a successful career in data analytics.
Wutzke suggests a background in IT and analytics to build a strong foundation. Study broad applications of data science including how to address analytics problems, build and validate models, various modeling and classification styles and model integration.
“But in this field, hands-on experience is invaluable. Apply for internships and entry-level positions,” she suggests. “Consider attending boot camps and taking training to obtain certifications.”
You can get certified for tools like Tableau, for technical skills like coding in Python, or you can obtain broad certifications like the Certified Analytics Professional, which requires demonstrating both experience and expertise, Wutzke says.
Train employees internally
Businesses might already employ someone who likes working with data. Training from within can be an efficient way to grow internal skill sets and boost company performance.
“This is a common practice in small companies. The organization I work for has grown its data analytics team organically,” says Wutzke. “Companies can support this internal growth by sending employees to training, bringing training in-house, making the necessary software and tools available and be providing opportunities for employees to solve company problems using data.”
Wutzke also explains that data analytics doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It encompasses a wide spectrum of activities, so an organization could start with data engineering. Then build an internal database and improve and automate the data collection process. Or the business could employ simple data visualization efforts to get a better idea of how their company is currently operating.
Even small projects and small efforts build capability among employees within the organization and provide value, she says.
This growing field has endless potential, says Wutzke. Any sector that interests you has companies sitting on data, waiting for someone to translate it into solutions and insights. Data-driven decision making is the way of the future.
Larson notes this can be an exciting field to enter as successful data analytics organizations contribute to successful strategy execution. New discoveries are made all the time, which can be leveraged for value and insights.
City University of Seattle is a private nonprofit university accredited through the doctoral level. It has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the Top 50 in the country for its online bachelor’s degree programs for eight consecutive years.