What Is Data Analytics?
Data analytics is the process and practice of analyzing data to answer questions, extract insights, and identify trends. Across industries and around the world, data analysts use different tools, techniques, and frameworks to derive actionable business insights from raw data.
The four major types of analytics include:
- Descriptive analytics, which looks at data to examine, understand, and describe something that’s already happened. When working with descriptive analytics, you might ask: Are sales stronger this month than last?
- Diagnostic analytics, which goes deeper than descriptive analytics by seeking to understand the why behind an occurrence. When working with diagnostic analytics, you might ask: Did the weather affect sales?
- Predictive analytics, which relies on historical data, past trends, and assumptions to answer questions about what will happen in the future. When working with predictive analytics, you might ask: What happened to sales the last time we had a cold winter?
- Prescriptive analytics, which aims to identify specific actions that an individual or organization should take to reach future targets or goals. When working with prescriptive analytics, you might ask: If the likelihood of a hot summer measured from weather models is above a certain percentage, should we add more shifts to increase output?
What Does a Data Analyst Do?
Companies in various industries can benefit from the work of data analysts. Of course, the answer to “What do data analysts do?” will vary depending on the type of organization in question and the extent to which a business has adopted data-driven decision-making practices.
Generally speaking, data analysts gather data, organize it, and use it to reach meaningful conclusions. Their work varies depending on the type of data they’re working with (sales, social media, inventory, etc.), but they can expect to spend their time developing systems for collecting data and compiling findings into reports that can help improve company-wide goals. Analysts may be involved in multiple parts of the analysis process, from setting up an analytics system to providing insights based on collected data.