Different mindsets

In Business Intelligence, one generally goes down either the development route or the analysis route.

In development, one is usually skilled in at least one tool. Also, one is aware of development methodologies. The main mindset is to solve problems / puzzles. The aim is to fulfill the requirements. Once accomplished, the result is usually what one would expect – subject to the requirement gathering stage being done properly.

As for data analysis, the analyst’s objective is to allow the consumer of the data to make use of it to do some action, or make some improvements. The tools of data interpretation are measuring approaches that define metrics and modelling methods used to analyse the data.

Usually in a big organisation, there are specialists in these roles so normally the data management professional is different from the data analyst.

However, in a smaller organisation where one finds oneself to be one of the few people to deal directly with data, sometimes both needs to be done. The thing is that the way a developer thinks is fundamentally different from a data analyst. The actual switching from one mindset to the other does require some effort.

Let me explain.

The developer’s objective is to solve the problem at hand, so he makes sure that the data is accurate and is delivered in a timely manner.

The analyst’s objective is to create some useful sense of the data for the organisation’s benefit, hence, the starting point isn’t at the root of the problem, but rather at the heart of the business – What is the company doing? How does the company know it’s going in the right direction? What needs to be improved?

Data accuracy to the developer is paramount. Data accuracy to the analyst is a matter of degree that is required. Developer looks into the problem, analyst comes from the angle of the organisation. Hence, if you a playing a dual role, one needs to switch from the “What is the problem?” mentality to “How is the company doing?” mentality. This does require the person to be more involved with the business, which means stepping out of the “zone” and  speaking to business users, which to some might be a little out of their comfort zone.

Likewise, for an analyst to become a developer is, in my opinion, against his or her personality as a development mindset requires one to totally focus on the problem and ignore the chaff. But sometimes it’s this chaff that provides some information of importance to the analyst. I don’t normally see analysts becoming developers. I think it’s more the other way round, but if you disagree, do feel free to voice it here.

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