Data Analyst VS Business Analyst, Which One Fits Your Career Plan?

Source: Simplilearn

Big Data is described as a large and complex quantity of data that is difficult to process in traditional ways. The concept is also known as the Three Vs of data: Volume, Velocity, and Variety. With digitalization being done in various industries, big data plays a vital role in many departments, such as product development, machine learning, customer experience, and predictive maintenance. For example, the product development of Netflix and Procter & Gamble use big data to predict the consumers’ demand and behavior so they can effectively develop new products or features of their brand. It could also give insights into your audiences’ social media logs and web visits to give a better understanding of your customer experience.

This leads to the rise of demand for these two roles: data analysts and business analysts. While both functions are closely related to big data and often work together in a professional setting, there are several differences you need to know before building your data career.

Who is a Data Analyst?

As its name suggests, data analysts are in charge of gathering, cleaning, visualizing, and analyzing the data retrieved from various sources. It focuses more on the technical part of data than how it could impact the product or brand. They would process the raw data and present it in a presentation or visualization that the stakeholders could understand. In short, data analysts serve as the bridge between the data gathered and the stakeholders to help them create the most profitable business decision.

To thrive as a data analyst, you need to possess excellent analytical and technical skills in processing data. Some of the tools you need to master are SQL, R Studio, Python, Microsoft Excel, and data visualization tools.

Who is a Business Analyst?

The business analyst is responsible for making decisions and strategies that will impact the company based on the data and statistical approach. They would be in charge of developing strategy and maintaining the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) of various aspects of the company, let it be internal or external. As they are the bridge between the business and technology side of the company, they must understand data processing technologies to complement their business knowledge.

Some essential skill you need to possess as a business analyst is critical thinking, problem-solving, KPI analysis, and communication. The mastery of statistics and data visualization tools like Tableau, Microsoft Excel, and SQL would also help.

What Sets Them Apart

Though there are overlapping skills and tools mastery needed to thrive in both roles, few aspects set them apart. The main difference between data analysts and business analysts is their doing with the data on their hands. While data analysts are more focused on processing raw data into a form that could be understood by many, business analysts are more fixated on making business decisions based on the data processed. As they have different job functions, data analysts will work closely with IT departments, and business analysts often collaborate with stakeholders and the commercial team.

Defining Career Plan as Data and Business Analyst

Though some companies still defined data and business analyst as the same term, you need to understand which role is more fitted to you to prepare yourself with the necessary skills. If you are still unsure, you could consider picking based on your educational background and interest.

If you happen to look for a major that is suited for data analyst, STEM-related majors like math, statistics, or computer might be a great option. Business analysts tend to have more diverse backgrounds, though the most popular one would be a business-focused major like management. For those who studied those majors, a data analyst or business analyst role could be one of your top options as the demand is predicted to be high for the next few years.

However, if you don’t come from a data-related major and are currently looking for a career change, many online courses could help you gain the skills needed to stand out in the competitive market. For this case, your interest would matter more than your educational background.

When we are talking about interest, there’s one question you should ask yourself: “Which one do I like more, numbers and statistics or solving a business-related problem?” While both roles require you to be data-savvy, you can distinguish which one will fit you more by recognizing what you like to do with the data. You could also take a basic course covering both materials to understand the role better, which could help you determine which career path you see yourself taking shortly.

At the end of the day, both data analysts and business analysts have promising career paths due to the usage of big data in various industries. Even when you don’t have a proper educational background in data processing, the door is open for everyone. Though both roles might appear similar due to their association with handling data, they have striking differences in job function and departments they work with. However, being both a data analyst or business analyst will guarantee you to be working closely with each other. So, which one do you think is a better fit for you?

Written By Jasmine Raihana


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