What is a data analyst?

Data analysts survey, manipulate, analyze, interpret, and present complex data to help businesses and organizations become more efficient.  This involves developing and maintaining records, identifying areas of improvement,  and tracking key performance indicators.  Data analysts are becoming increasingly important to large and small businesses, government departments, NGOs, and many other organizations.

In fact, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), contributions from digital workers will rise by over 50% in the next two years. In its white paper Content Intelligence for the Future of Work, the IDC reports the world of work will be increasingly more reliant on teamwork between human and machine. "A software robot (or 'digital worker') is essentially a software program that automates a task that has previously been accomplished by a human worker," explains Holly Muscolino, research vice president of content and process strategies and the future of work at IDC. "A variety of software technologies are classified as 'digital workers.' The technology gaining the most airtime today is robotic process automation (RPA), but other automation technologies, and AI-enabled technologies, like digital assistants and chatbots, are also classified as 'digital workers'." The rapidly increasing use of such automation, AI, and software requires many qualified data graduates and workers.

And data isn't just about boosting sales or generating more clicks. It can also improve, and even save, people's lives. Research from Harvard Medical School found data used in medical machine learning software can raise cancer detection accuracy rates to 99.5%. In the USA, these data-driven models help an extra 56,000 patients a year get an accurate and early diagnosis, significantly increasing their chances of making a full recovery.

5 key skills for data analysts

Ability to analyze

All good analysis begins with a clear objective. It should outline a clearly defined problem with a definite answer, like "will switching to automated software technology help us reduce hold times without negatively impacting customer service satisfaction rates?" Data analysis looks at the why, the when, and the how. This will always require some interpretation and subjective reasoning. However, findings and conclusions should always be backed up with hard data. If not, then you’re just a person with another opinion.

Project management skills

Senior data analysts often oversee small teams tasked with projects that can last weeks, months, or even years. For example, the $3 billion project to map the human genome lasted 13 years. It involved a tremendous amount of coordination and collaboration between thousands of specialists from all over the world.  A good project manager requires strong communication skills, excellent time management, problem-solving ability, and people skills.

Knowledge of automation

We're on the verge of a technological revolution powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. Essentially, these smart machines will operate with minimal human input, completing mundane and highly complex tasks in a range of new and old industries, including banking, defense, social media, gaming, and manufacturing. AI and automated technologies run by processing and interpreting codes and algorithms created by humans. And they require vast amounts of data. Moreover, contrary to many fears of robots taking jobs, the automation revolution is set to create far more jobs than it replaces, particularly in  data. An increase in AI capabilities will need more skilled data scientists and engineers to maintain, manage, and improve operating systems. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 predicts that a full 97 million jobs will be created by AI and automation, with the top three growth professions from this movement being data analysts and scientists, AI and machine learning specialists, and big data specialists.

UX design

User experience design (UX) aims to create a better experience for people using products, services, and apps. It's a relatively new, interdisciplinary field incorporating design, computer science, behavioral economics, and psychology. UX focuses on usability and accessibility, making interactions with a product or service fun, engaging, and seamless. UX designers need to understand what customers want, their values, and how they express their identities to others and even themselves. As Product Designer and Frontend Developer Ish∆n explains, a huge part of this is collecting, interpreting, and analyzing data.

Social media knowledge

A recent Pew Research survey found over half of Americans use social media as their primary news source, with a third getting their news from Facebook alone. Newer platforms like TikTok have attracted millions of users worldwide, with the average user spending around an hour a day posting or consuming content.

Moreover, blockchains are set to power another great leap forward in how people use social media. These decentralized platforms give users more control over their data and are free from censorship by political or economic forces. Digital companies and marketers who want to stay ahead of the competition will need to stay updated with this rapidly evolving space. The most innovative entrepreneurs will try to get ahead of the cure. But they can't do it without data and people who know how to use it.

A diploma in data analytics

The Diploma in Data Analytics at the Toronto School of Management (TSoM) is the perfect launchpad for a successful career in one of today's most exciting and fastest-growing industries. The one-year blended program is tailor-made to equip you with in-demand skills and knowledge, giving you the tools to analyze complex data and make effective evidence-based decisions that can drive a business or organization forward.

You will learn key theoretical concepts in data design, data handling, and data auditing. You'll also get some hands-on experience with analysis software, including Tableau, Qlik Sense, D3, and R, the leading programming language in data science and statistics.

After 600 hours of guided learning, it's time to put all your knowledge into practice with 240 hours of work experience in an established business. This is an ideal opportunity to apply classroom theories to real business situations. It's also a chance to network and meet some contacts that could become your future employer. The school will help you arrange interviews for work experience placement. Diploma graduates have worked for companies specializing in data analysis, data mining, and business intelligence.

Following graduation, students are qualified to work as data analysts, database analysts, data mining analysts, or data warehouse analysts. These roles offer excellent starting salaries, a stimulating work environment, and the chance of long-term career progression in a rapidly evolving industry.

Toronto School of Management is a forward-thinking college that ensures students are fully prepared for the ever-changing demands of the modern job market or further academic study. Through a combination of career-based programs, world-class learning resources, and workplace experience, TSoM will give you the skills and support you need to reach your full potential.

Chamika Gibon, a TSoM Business Management Diploma graduate, says, "Toronto School of Management is an excellent school to help you to advance in your career. Their individual classes target the area of study and offer precise and up-to-date information. I highly recommend attending the Toronto School of Management."

Fellow graduate Ruan Carlos adds, "It was the best institution that I could've chosen," says Ruan. "The teachers are amazing. TSoM is very hands-on and focused to provide the best experience for their students. They really accomplish that. The teachers are very approachable and their methods are very efficient. They combine the topics with real-life experiences which make us ready for the business world."

So if you want to take your career or academic journey to the next level, it's time to explore the Toronto School of Management Diploma in Data Analytics.

Article written in association with the Toronto School of Management.