What are the data skills that count in today’s tech industry?

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Big data is a powerful force in today’s businesses, guiding logistics operations, online marketing campaigns and cybersecurity measures. In a November 2016 survey of 382 human resources professionals, the Society for Human Resource Management found that 82 percent of respondents worked at companies with personnel needs in data analysis and 59 percent expected an increase in the number of positions calling for these skills over the next five years. By thoughtfully applying big data to complex business problems and everyday organizational functions, professionals are able to fill these needs successfully, offering their companies insights that drive long-term growth.

Completing a masters program in analytics is a way to develop the knowledge and strategic thinking currently in demand at tech firms and other organizations. Bringing together a thorough understanding of business strategy and advanced technical ability readies graduates to take on the challenges ahead. To make the most of the opportunities available, professionals must learn analytics skills, using quantitative information to gain perspective and look ahead.

Apply big-data tools

A major part of finding success as an analytics professional is learning to gather, clean and manage data in ways that allow an organization to find out where it stands. Becoming a big-data expert calls for mastering the software and programming techniques necessary to perform these tasks on an everyday basis. Individuals in the field commonly learn Hadoop, a software framework for distributed storage and big-data processing, along with a database-querying language like SQL and statistical programming language, such as Python.

A thorough understanding of advanced mathematics is a major advantage in manipulating data and creating models. Professionals interested in pursuing data science jobs should be especially knowledgeable in statistics, multivariable calculus and linear algebra. If experts have the requisite software engineering background, they may also be tasked with developing programs to fulfill an organization’s data requirements themselves.

Identify key insights

There’s huge potential for gaining business advantages from collecting and analyzing data. However, to make the most of these possibilities, organizations need people with the technical ability and strategic thinking to sift through massive quantities of data and pick out the pieces of information that matter. Data mining and extraction techniques allow experts to pick out meaningful patterns or relationships with speed and accuracy.

With the right tools, analytics experts work their way through complex sets of quantitative information and discover the most useful or revealing data points. Identifying market trends can give a business a leg up by revealing how leaders can seize chances for growth. Operational analysis may point out areas where the company can streamline the way it functions, becoming leaner and more agile.

Create revealing visualizations

Once analytics experts determine what data points and trends are crucial for the organization, they need to present what they’ve learned to others. The primary means of conveying these details is through data visualizations, boiling down key relationships in a way that can be understood at a glance. A well-constructed graph or chart can go a long way in showing what factors might have an impact on the future of a business, revealing for various departments how their situations have changed over time and aiding in their planning for the next quarter.

Make savvy recommendations

Analytics professionals make the greatest contribution when they fully understand a company’s essential processes and plans for expansion. They can optimize the collection and distribution of quantitative information to support individual departments and the business as a whole. They provide targeted, actionable intelligence that makes vital connections between densely populated databases and real-world business activities.

In addition to visualizing analytics findings, big-data experts benefit from having the soft skills to communicate what they learn in reports and presentations. Turning all those numbers into words is an important part of determining next steps for a company. That means professionals who can effectively get the insights they’ve gleaned across to decision-makers, many of whom have limited technical knowledge, are in an excellent position to guide their organizations’ strategic thinking.

Draw on an education in business analytics

Personnel who are experienced in using big-data tools are indispensable to tech firms and other businesses interested in capturing the possibilities of analytics. Professionals who want to take an active role in gathering the quantitative findings that push an organization forward can gain the background they need by earning a masters in analytics. They’ll learn to manage and mine data, using what they discover to formulate business intelligence.

In the Villanova School of Business online Master of Science in Analytics program, students have ample opportunities to gain hands-on experience in using the latest software tools and analytics techniques. Visit the program page to find out more.

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