It is not uncommon for people to get confused between a data analyst and a business analyst. I cannot blame them, as both roles include overlapping tasks, knowledge, skills, roles, and responsibilities. It also depends a great deal on what the business expects from each role. Sometimes businesses would expect data analysts to do the job of a business analyst in certain situations. In some other cases, business analysts are expected to perform tasks that are more to do with core data analysis. In the sections below, we shall attempt to draw the line between these two roles so that you have a clear understanding of each role and pursue the one which interests you.
Who is a Data Analyst?
If you are looking for a simple answer to that question, data analysts are expected to know everything from data storage systems right up to the visualizations, analysis, reports, and everything in between.
Data analysts are experts in the data domain. They are expected to understand all kinds of database management systems, warehouses, and data marts and the models used on such systems. They are also expected to be adept at the technology used by the business to store and retrieve data. Data analysts also perform tasks like data munging, data clean-up, and other tasks before any analysis occur. Data mining skills are another important skill required of a data analyst. Finally, the use of tools like Tableau and Power BI to prepare compelling visualizations and reports is a must-know for a data analyst.
Who is a Business Analyst?
Business analysts are experts in the business domain. They are expected to know how the overall data landscape in a business is set up and maybe a thing or two about how data is extracted and analysed. Still, a business analyst primarily works with multiple stakeholders to identify business problems, areas of opportunities and propose appropriate solutions. Business analysts work closely with data teams to extract data that supports their idea of a business problem and the best possible solutions. Since they are expected to be thorough with their data, they have been known to possess similar skills as a data analyst in data analysis, visualization, and compelling stories driving business decisions. Typically, a business analyst will help a data analyst get the right data for their business proposals. In some businesses, in the absence of a dedicated data analyst, business analysts can take up roles of a data analysts and perform various functions that will get them the required data to support their stories.
Although business analysts use data to support their proposals, business analyst roles lean less towards the technicalities of data handling and processing and lean more towards the business side.
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Data Analyst or Business Analyst, what is best for you?
How to know if you would like to pursue a career in data analysis or dive straight into a business analyst role? The answer to this is twofold. One is where your interests lie. If you like the technicalities of handling, processing, and analyzing data, you are better to take up the data analyst career. But if you are more inclined towards solving business problems, interacting with multiple stakeholders, drive projects and programs, you should take the business analyst route. An important thing to note here, that typically a business analyst grows from a data analyst role in their formative years. With experience, they pick up enough business knowledge and skills to drive changes through business using the data skills they have acquired through the years.
So, you can still be a business analyst down the line if you take the data analyst route.
If you are interested to know more about the skills and educational qualifications that businesses look for in these roles today, you should check out the page on the data science online course available on Great Learning.