What does a data analyst do? Plenty of cleaning up, it seems
Image: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

What does a data analyst do? Plenty of cleaning up, it seems

26 Jan 2017147 Shares

Dave Elkington of InsideSales.com explains the role of data analysts, and why cleaning up data takes up the vast majority of their time. Algorithms and computer science play a minor role.

What does a data analyst do? Apparently, a lot of cleaning up.

According to the CEO of InsideSales.com, Dave Elkington, 80pc of the role is cleaning up data, removing false positives and, essentially, getting everything in place.

Data analyst, data scientist

Algorithms are solid

The algorithms built to support data analytics are largely already in existence, some for decades. What’s needed is a way to maximise their effectiveness.

“A data scientist job is to understand the data, clean the data, write the algorithm and optimise the algorithm,” said Elkington, adding that “there are some misperceptions about this”.

Elkington claims the algorithms are already solid, with the vast majority of employees’ time spent polishing the data. “The rest of the job is about optimising the algorithm, understanding the output, understanding the meaning of the problem.”

Comparing the role to someone improving the running of a car, Elkington said tweaking bits and pieces here and there is the true skill.

“I love the math, but it has been around for a long time. The real value in data science is in the data.”

David Pardoe of Hays Recruitment recently wrote on this topic, agreeing that the most critical aspect of data science is doing things that can result in better, or quicker, decisions being made – not the technology at hand.

The tech sector currently shows incredible growth in data-related fields. Areas such as data science, analytics and fintech are huge, and are changing the face of legacy sectors.

Indeed, Hays listed data scientists and data analysts as some of the most in-demand roles for 2017.

Looking for jobs in tech or science? Check out our Employer Profiles for information on companies hiring right now and sign up for our Career Republic e-zine for a weekly digest of sci-tech careers news and advice.

Gordon Hunt
By Gordon Hunt

Gordon joined Silicon Republic in October 2014 as a journalist, moving on to a new position as senior communications and content executive at NDRC in August 2017. Unafraid of heights or spiders, Gordon spends most of his time avoiding conversations about music, appreciating even the least creative pun and rueing the day he panicked when meeting Paul McGrath. His favourite thing on the internet remains the ‘Random Article’ link on Wikipedia.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading