Back in 2009, solutions marketer Nic Smith stated succinctly that “Business Intelligence is about providing the right data at the right time to the right people so that they can take the right decisions.” With the amount of data available to businesses, it is critical that the data is managed and analyzed intelligently to provide the rapid insight that those businesses need to succeed. With BI tools and solutions constantly evolving and businesses looking to analytics vendors to design self-serve solutions for their employees, there has never been a better time to make a move into the data and analytics industry.
It’s not all fun and games. When you work in developing cutting-edge analytics solutions, chances are you’ll have the experience of working till the wee hours of the morning deploying a solution for a client, or racking your brain over an elusive recurrent error that just won’t go away.
Like any other job, working with data and analytics offers a unique set of challenges, which vary from minor blips to full-on 2 AM meltdowns. Yet for all those inevitable issues, working in the field of data and analytics is rewarding, challenging and dare we say it – fun.
Here are 7 reasons why you should consider a career in data and analytics:
1. Enormous demand for data and analytics professionals
According to a survey by Cognizant and published by eMarketer, 43% of surveyed companies in the U.S. and Europe stress that in 3 years analytics and big data will be one of the most important digital competencies within their company, up from 38% currently. This shows that many companies are still working to adopt data and analytics solutions, and the demand is growing rapidly.
Back in 2014, Srikanth Velamakanni, the Bangalore-based cofounder and CEO of Fractal Analytics stated: “In the next few years, the size of the analytics market will evolve to at least one-thirds of the global IT market from the current one-tenths.” What’s more, according to IDC, big data and business analytics worldwide revenues will grow from nearly $122B in 2015 to more than $187B in 2019, an increase of more than 50% over the five-year forecast period.
2. Various roles in the industry that suit different skill sets
When developing analytics solutions, it takes a team of individuals in various roles who bring different skills to the table. Some of those roles include:
- Data Architect: Develops data architecture to effectively capture, integrate, organize, centralize and maintain data.
- Data Engineer: Develop, test and maintain data architectures to keep data accessible and ready for analysis.
- Data Analyst: Processes and interprets data to get actionable insights for a company.
- Data Scientist: Provides analysis once data volume and velocity reaches a level requiring more sophisticated technical skills.
3. You learn about and solve the problems facing many industries
Working in data & analytics allows you to expand your resume with expertise in different industries related to problems you might never have considered, giving you a valuable edge in the competitive BI employment landscape.
i. Supermarkets and hurricanes
It’s no secret that when a hurricane is approaching, people tend to stock up on emergency supplies. However, when Walmart analyzed their sales data at stores in the path of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, they ascertained that along with flashlights and bottled water, strawberry Pop Tarts were in high demand. They were then able to supply the stores with more Pop Tarts in advance of the hurricane, and they sold incredibly well.
ii. Smarter life insurance through segmenting and big data
Many life insurers now use predictive analytics tools utilizing Big Data sets to get a better picture of their new customers. For example, health-risk analysis tools blend actuarial data with medical science, demographics and advanced mortality tables that consider emerging healthier lifestyle trends. This allows insurers to make smarter risk assessments of their customers and design more personalized policies.
iii. Predicting hospital admission rates
By considering the time and day of the week, holidays, virus patterns, and transfer patterns from other hospitals, a dashboard was designed in Paris to predict admissions rates up to two weeks in advance. Machine learning then analyzes current input statistics against the historical data, and tweaks the algorithm for a more accurate prediction. This allows for a smarter allocation of resources, and ultimately reduced wait times in the ER.
4. Projects that challenge you to think outside the box
Working in the data and analytics field requires more than just technical skills. Every problem has a solution, but the more important question is to ask if that solution is the most efficient or elegant way to solve the problem. After all, there is no shortage of competition out there – so what separates your approach and solution from everyone else’s?
The industry is looking for engaged and energetic professionals. Oftentimes you will find that when a client asks you to solve a problem, the most successful analytics professionals think carefully about the challenges facing that client and help align the design of a solution to not just solve that problem, but help them realize potential ways to streamline their business that they hadn’t considered. After plenty of collaborative brainstorming sessions and copious pots of coffee, you’ll end up surprised by the innovative nature of the proposed solution. Though there is plenty of trial and error when it comes to making that dream a reality, the most rewarding feeling comes from where the client is over the moon and you know you’ve accomplished something entirely unique.
5. Making an impact through your work
Data analytics, with a special emphasis on Big Data analytics and IoT, has been evolving to the point where not only are different industries seeing their processes streamlined, but in many cases completely reimagined. Consider the auto industry, with self-driving cards already starting to spark conversations on what transportation will look like in 10 – 20 years.
The sensors on self-driving cars are capturing and analyzing traffic and proximity to other drivers, signals, and even something as innocuous as a tossed cigarette from behind a parked car being a potential signal that a pedestrian will soon step out into the street, all in real-time. That data can then be analyzed against the data from tens of thousands of other drivers to make smarter predictions for the future and improve the speed, efficiency and reliability of self-driving car systems. With many new world-changing IoT and Big Data applications being developed every day, this is an exciting time to be a data and analytics practitioner.
6. The natural camaraderie of supporting each other in the trenches
Communication and passion are keys to the successful fulfilment of the client’s requirements, and when you work with others who share that passion you create a unique bond. Everyone on a project plays a crucial role; whether building or adjusting a data model, developing reports and interfaces, or writing requirements, everyone must rely on each other to move forward.
Even in a company where employees are deployed at various client sites, companies like ours share our knowledge internally when we face challenges in our projects to support each other and expand the knowledge base of our coworkers and friends. Beers over lunch on a Friday after a particularly hard week are not unusual, and the contacts you make on the job will help you build a strong professional network.
7. You’ll enjoy your free time so much more
Working in data and analytics is demanding, but that just means you appreciate your free time even more. When you put your feet up at the end of a long day, you’ll know you’ve accomplished something tangible, and you’ll be so grateful that you have time to binge Netflix before you go to sleep.
Project X is a data integration & analytics firm based in Toronto that has been working with data and analytics for over ten years. We’re passionate about our work, and if you share our passion we want to hear from you.