Business analytics has unleashed a whole new world to us and raised decision making to a radically different stratum. Today informed decision is being made by slicing, dicing and scrutinizing the data. But will this analysis have any value if we totally ignore the business aspect of the problem at hand? No. Analytics consulting is a functional role that balances business and hardcore analytics with an aim to deliver value-added analytical solutions.
These days most analytics companies cater to clients across different business domains such as Telecom, Financial services, Retail, Pharmaceuticals, Consumer Goods etc., hence the need to thoroughly understand and address the business needs is more pronounced.
Difference between an Analytics Consultant and an Analytics Practitioner
Analytics is a vast field and just like any other organizational set up it has a hierarchical structure. An Analytics consultant is a level above the Analytics practitioner, who (consultant) apart from having the necessary technical knowledge, needs to possess a high level of consulting skills, which means Problem-solving, Communication, and Presentation. While the technical skills can be learned academically, the other soft skills come with experience and practice.
Responsibilities of an Analytics Consultant
- Understanding the need of the client, developing innovative solutions, orchestrating the entire life cycle of the project and presenting the solution to the end-user.
- Tapping the organization’s existing knowledge base and capabilities to identify the best solution to the client’s need according to their timelines, budget and constraints.
- Recognizing new business opportunities for the organization to secure new projects from new or existing clients
What are the skills possessed by an Analytics Consultant?
Exceptional problem solving skills is a pre-requisite for Analytics Consulting. So let us see how do analytics consultants approach a problem?
Source: HP’s Strategic Planning and Modelling team
Before solving any problem one needs to frame the problem. Framing the problem means answering the question “What is the problem that I am trying to solve here”? HP’s Strategic Planning and Modeling team has also explained a three-dimensional approach while solving a problem. Firstly, addressing the higher issues which are the root-cause of the problem, addressing parallel issue, which also needs attention side by side, and lastly addressing the lower issues which could be a deterrent while solving the problem.
Each of the business problems that a client faces is complex as well as ambiguous in nature. By taking the problem structuring approach, the consultant breaks down the issue into smaller questions and finds answers by targeting the issue with precision. The model followed by HP’s Strategic Planning and Modeling team involves developing an initial hypothesis of the problem and addressing the sub-issues through data and analysis.
Project management, facilitation and collaboration skills
While leading a project, an Analytics consultant needs to be unbiased. He has to allocate tasks in a team according to each analyst’s area of specialization. He needs to communicate the problem in details to the team members, brainstorm the solutions, motivate and instill a sense of ownership in the team members to perform the tasks. This also calls for good co-ordination skills and multitasking because in large analytics firms a consultant could be managing more than one project at a time across different verticals.
Good presentation skills
An Analytics Consulting professional has a client-facing role. After completion and testing of the project, he needs to make a structured report. The recommendations need to be presented in a manner so that the management or client can easily understand and be convinced. A good presentation report is one where each conclusion is backed by deep insights. No matter how complex the problem had been, the solution needs to look very simple and logical.
What does it take to get into Analytics Consulting?
- A bachelor’s degree in mathematics and statistics
- Proficiency in data analysis tools such as Big Data – Hadoop, Hive, Data Visualisation – Tableau, Qlik as well as Traditional Business Intelligence – SAP Business Objects, IBM Cognos and Oracle Business Intelligence
- Concrete knowledge of Predictive and Descriptive Analytics
- Around 6-8 years of experience in the analytics reporting with domain specialization
- An industry certification in business analytics/ data science from a reputed institute
- Strong interpersonal skills to understand the client needs and communicate the designed solution
Analytics consulting is one of the most coveted and financially rewarding profiles today. They are in huge demand by global giants like Accenture, HP, BNY Mellon, Dell etc. Sound domain knowledge, rich experience and exceptional communication skills paves the way for it.
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