Data analytics for dummies

Anyone can make the professional transition into a data analytics role, as long as they follow these steps.

The demand for data analysts in Singapore’s workforce is seeing a new high. As the use of analytics becomes more pervasive across industries, the timing for employers and professionals who are betting big on this skill set has never been better.

However, the key issue for employers lies in finding the right people to fill these jobs. A report recently stated that Randstad has seen a 50% increase in the demand for roles in big data in the last two years in Singapore alone. But the need for data analysts and scientists is growing faster than the country is able to produce talent with the right skills – meaning it’s a talent’s market if you’re keen to get your feet wet in the world of data.

Joanna Flint, Asia-Pacific Head of Agency at Google - one of our training partners - says the size of the gap is “huge”.

“An estimated 30,000 tech specialists are needed for the industry to meet the anticipated demand”, she says.

In fact, the IDA’s Infocomm Manpower Survey showed the total demand for data analytics professionals in 2017 would reach 3,000. According to S Iswaran, Minister of Trade & Industry, Singapore will need another 2,500 data analysts between now and 2020.

So where does one begin as a keen data analyst wannabe? Contrary to popular belief, an analyst’s job is not just wrangling large sums of data, but making sense of it to solve real problems. And it’s not just engineers or coders who will make the best, most proficient analysts, as Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, recently pointed out in Parliament.

Whether you are a numbers geek with no programming background or an HR professional who’s keen for a mid-career switch, here is some advice to help you make a professional transition into data analytics.

Become an ‘active’ analyst

At its core, the job function of an analyst consists of three competencies – collecting and collating relevant data, analysing it for a specific purpose, and deriving useful insights from it. To step up, one must go beyond the basics and actively question the analysis at various stages. By doing so, you’re not only digging deeper into the "whys", but also going beyond basic reporting to furnish a relevant business story.

A crash course in data analytics covering aspects such as Web Analytics, Tag Management and Data Gathering will give you all the fuel you need in a short span of time.

Similarly, for those who are mid-career and looking for a change, an introductory course can help test the water to understand if this sector is of interest to them and build a new skill set before taking the leap.

Become an efficient analyst

With so many marketing technology tools mushrooming in a highly digitised environment, one can only keep pace by getting a good grasp of industry-leading tools. More tools mean more data – and thus more ways to understand your customer.

Upskill in programming languages that can help consolidate data, and query data quickly in order to avoid data overload and manual time-consuming tasks. Look for accuracy and efficiency tools and methods to be agile and relevant. A good understanding of programming languages such as Python or R-and is necessary, but all this programming is no good if you don’t have statistical ability to interpret the data.

Be Creative

Think of it as a science meeting an art – while much of a data analyst’s role revolves around numbers, it is as much about writing, storytelling and creating a powerful narrative. How creative can you get while narrating this story? How will you explain the importance of this data? Have you looked at various sources to flesh out a rounded perspective and not just one reason or thinking? How will you visualise and present this bulk information for maximum impact? These are the questions you need to be answering while deriving your final results.

As they say, curiosity is the key to creativity. Being curious, agile and hungry for more are key traits of a great digital analyst and will help you stand out from the crowd! 

About the author

Aleetza Senn, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, Sparkline
Before establishing Sparkline, Senn was one of Google’s pioneers in Asia-Pacific, helping to establish the office in the region as its sixth employee. There, she managed the giant’s largest customers, mostly Fortune 500 companies, helping them to develop digital strategy across their business, with a keen focus on digital marketing in search, display, video, social and finally mobile. 
In 2013, together with ex-Google colleague Vinny Vijeyakumaar, she launched Sparkline, an integrated digital analytics focused agency. 


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