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The data analyst of the future: why you’ll want to hire them and how to find one

Astonishing numbers about the impending need

McKinsey & Company released a report about the overwhelming amount of data being created by the Internet, called “Big Data.” With the new data coming at us at all times, McKinsey predicted that nearly 200,000 specialists will be needed in the coming years to make sense of it.

Who are these specialists? They will need in-depth analytical skills and the ability to work with incredibly (and unimaginably) large amounts of data coming from innumerable sources.

While data analysts have been around for a very long time, the analysts of the future will need a different skill set than just statistical data modeling and research methods.

The way forward

The great opportunity doesn’t just lie in analyzing data from any one source. Using search marketing data, for example, is valuable, but aggregating that data with social or digital advertising or traditional TV data (or all three!) will help drive even more value. And that’s where we’re heading.

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Think of all the insights you could find by connecting the dots and combining data from all over your business’ ecosystem. If you could understand how your customers shop online and watch TV, it gives you more information than either one in a silo.

According to McKinsey’s report, analysts of the future will need more than just basic math skills. They’ll need to be able to draw from statistics, computer science, applied mathematics and economics.

Will there be enough analysts?

Instead of relying solely on new analysts to be trained and educated, many are likely to come from within organizations through retraining and continued learning courses. There are still few higher education options for folks looking to become this new bread of analyst, and it’s likely there won’t be enough new analysts ready in time. All of us will likely need to adapt to help serve as future analysts.

So how do you prepare yourself to be an analyst of the future? How do you find an analyst of the future?

Eventually the work may fall to one person, but it’s more important that multiple teams be able to work together in the interim to connect the dots.

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Lead the charge by being flexible and willing to share resources and data across teams. Explore research and work other departments are doing to see where you can help fill in the holes or where their work may help you find new insights. Get everyone in the room to understand what combining forces may be able to accomplish and where it may be redundant.

Beyond collaboration, encourage team members to learn new skills when they can. If traditional Web analysts are interested in exploring media optimization, let them! Encourage them, and help them learn. You’ll be glad you did.

Written By

Rebecca is a passionate UNC graduate, and a biochemist-turned-communications professional, she spends her days as a senior social media analyst at Digitas in Chicago, specialized social media monitoring and measurement best practices. She is continually excited to explore additional facets of digital measurement like traditional Web analytics, search metrics and integrated data models.

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