Data Analytics Explained: A Beginner’s Guide

Young woman learning Data Analytics on a tablet

Data analytics has become an integral part of every modern organization. It helps business leaders and managers make data-driven decisions that enable them to identify new opportunities and gaps in business processes. Ultimately, it maximizes efficiency and revenue.

That makes a data analyst’s role critical to companies across various sectors, from healthcare and e-commerce to manufacturing and construction. If you’ve been contemplating building a career in data analytics, it’s high time you get started.

But what is data analytics and what skills do you need to succeed as a data analyst?

Data Analytics: An Overview

In simple terms, data analytics means processing raw data and deriving meaningful insights from it. As businesses increase their use of digital tech, they generate a massive amount of raw data. But that data won’t truly become useful until it’s been properly analyzed.

A data analyst is responsible for collecting and analyzing incomprehensible raw data and turning it into coherent, easy-to-understand information. It helps organizations overcome existing challenges and mitigate potential problems.

Data Analytics vs. Data Science: What’s the Difference?

While both terms are used interchangeably, there is a crucial difference. Data analytics focuses on using data to identify effective solutions to existing problems.

On the other hand, data science identifies the questions businesses should be asking. It involves building new processes and systems to optimize business operations.

Types of Data Analytics

Business organizations usually use the following types of data analytics:

  • Descriptive analytics
  • Diagnostic analytics
  • Predictive analytics
  • Prescriptive analytics

Types of Data Analytics

  • Descriptive Analytics

    Descriptive analytics involves the aggregation and mining of historical data. It’s a surface-level analysis that provides an overview of what has already happened in the past. At this stage, data analysts don’t try to establish cause-and-effect relationships between the existing data and its outcomes.

  • Diagnostic Analytics

    Diagnostic analytics digs deeper into the “why” of positive or negative outcomes. It evaluates the available data to identify the root cause of a result. Also, it can identify anomalies within the data and help uncover recurring patterns.

    For instance, sales managers can use diagnostic analytics to determine what caused sales to drop in a specific month. Similarly, marketers can use it to understand why a particular campaign didn’t perform as expected.

  • Predictive Analytics

    Predictive analytics involves using past and current data to predict what’ll happen in the future. At this stage, data analysts identify historical patterns and future trends. Also, they generate actionable data-driven insights to help business leaders decide the next course of action.

    For instance, predictive analytics can alert sales teams about customers who are about to churn. They can use that information to entice these customers with personalized offers and retain them.

  • Prescriptive Analytics

    Prescriptive analytics outlines actions and decisions businesses should take in the future to overcome or avert current challenges. It can have a significant impact on a company’s performance and revenue. It’s among the more complex types of analysis and requires you to work with computational modeling and machine learning models and algorithms.

Should You Pursue a Career in Data Analytics?

Data analytics is a fast-growing profession with a wide array of growth opportunities. Over 87,627 data analysts are currently employed in the US.¹

As more companies accelerate digital transformation, the demand for data analysts will continue to rise. The global big data analytics market is projected to be worth more than $655 billion by 2029. It’ll grow at a CAGR of 13.4% between 2022 and 2029.²

So, instead of wondering whether a career in data analytics is worth a shot, it’s wiser to look for ways to get started.

What Does a Data Analyst Do?

As a data analyst, your responsibilities will vary based on the type of business that employs you. They’ll also depend on the extent to which the organization uses data-driven decision-making.

But here’s an overview of what the role could entail:

  • Collecting and mining data from various sources
  • Reorganizing raw data to make sure both humans and machines can comprehend it
  • Building and maintaining databases to store, manage, and process data
  • Interpreting data sets using statistical tools to identify patterns and trends
  • Visualizing data interpretations in the form of graphs, charts, tables, etc.
  • Preparing reports outlining patterns and predictions drawn out from the available data
  • Working with other departments to identify opportunities for optimization
  • Creating documentation to help other stakeholders understand and replicate the data analysis process

Essential Skills for Data Analysts

A successful data analyst does more than just crunch numbers. They have to build a framework for data processing and analysis and ensure that organizations harness the full potential of their data.

If you’re looking to build a career as a data analyst, you need in-depth knowledge of topics like probability theory, regression analysis, statistical modeling, and data visualization.

Here are the skills you should acquire.

Technical Skills

You must have a firm grasp of programming languages like Java, Javascript, and Python. You’ll also need to master database languages like SQL and Oracle, as well as spreadsheet tools like Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel.

Mathematical Skills

Considering that you’ll work with numbers at length, an aptitude for math and statistics can go a long way.

Soft Skills

As a data analyst, you’ll be responsible for helping business managers and senior leaders make critical decisions. That, in turn, makes it necessary to build strong communication skills and an analytical mindset. You’ll also need to hone your problem-solving and decision-making skills. These will play a crucial role in helping you find solutions and convey them effectively to the various stakeholders.

A Career You Can Count On

A career in data analytics is rewarding in more ways than one. Besides the excellent earning potential, you’ll also get the chance to impact an organization’s present and future. But given the bright job outlook, expect to face stiff competition, too.

The goal of Kenzie Academy from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is to help you develop the necessary skills to succeed as a data analyst. Our data analytics program will help you build your technical prowess and master programming languages like Java and Python.

Are you ready to take your career to the next level? Apply now and kick-start your journey to becoming a top-notch data analyst.


¹ Zippia, “Data Analyst Demographics and Statistics in the US” on the internet, at https://www.zippia.com/data-analyst-jobs/demographics/ (Viewed on Dec. 5, 2022)

²Fortune Business Insights, “Big Data Analytics Market Size, Share & COVID 19 Impact Analysis, By Component (Software, Hardware, and Services), by Application (Data Discovery and Visualization, Advanced Analytics, and Others), by Vertical (BFSI, Automotive, Telecom/Media, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Retail, Energy & Utility, Government, and Others), and Regional Forecast, 2022-2029” on the internet, at https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/big-data-analytics-market-106179 (Viewed on Dec. 5, 2022)

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