Data analysis is one of the top skills in demand by employers. Now more than ever, with the age of digitization and the growing mountain of data we collect daily – employers require employees who can process complex problems using data analysis. Be sure to hone those skills in your everyday.
There is no shortage of data in today’s digitized world.
In fact, every day, we are flooded by new information, new knowledge that has to be assimilated, processed, and analyzed in order to make decisions. And nowhere more so than in the workplace. How is this managed? Technology, of course. Which means techies who understand data and are able to create solutions to manage it are going to be in high demand for as long as our world is digitally connected.
Which is why analytical skills – your capacity to visualize and articulate information or concepts based on the available data – are more important today than ever before. Honing your analytical thinking skills will distinguish you, wherever you are in your career.
Put simply, analytical thinking is a kind of visual thinking. It involves a methodical step-by-step approach that allows you to break down complex problems into single and manageable components. It is your ability to synthesize information, see patterns, and apply techniques to determine what is important from what is not so important – and discern what they might mean for your business. And for your own professional trajectory. As a technologist – you have the ability to take this further and create solutions using technology.
Basic data analysis skills will increasingly determine success in every type of job, role, and professional position in our digitized workplace.
In fact, some recent studies reveal that a whopping 82% of employers and company leaders put data analysis top of their list of key attributes in terms of driving competitiveness.
So what can you do to ramp up your analytical powers — and your career, in the process?
Cultivate your Data Analysis Skills
Let us start with the basics. While the word “analysis” can itself conjure all sorts of connotations – a lot of hard work, or brainpower or effort -- in reality, we are using analytical processes pretty much all the time, and most of the time we do not ever realize that we are doing so.
The Plan, Analyze, Conclude – or PAC - Model is a sort of framework that can be used in any situation for conducting thorough and meaningful analysis.
PAC consists of the following, straightforward steps:
- Plan – define what it is you need to do. Whether it is purchasing cloud software solutions for a secure network or making a strategic decision that will affect your company, try to clarify the question, and decide on your approach.
- Analyze – this is when you collect all the available information. What do you know? What can you understand from the data? What do your options look like?
- Conclude – once you have all your information collected and evaluated, it is time to draw conclusions. Which of the options will yield the best result? Now you make your recommendations and report your results.
Quantitative versus Qualitative
When you are collecting your data you will need to figure out what kind of data it is so that you can really analyze and evaluate the information you have.
Data is typically divided into two types: quantitative and qualitative. These are fairly easy to distinguish.
- Quantitative data is information that can be expressed numerically. So things like prices or earnings, sales reports, number of successful connections on a network, are all quantitative.
- Qualitative data, is information that you assess for meaning – predominantly using words to explain. This kind of data is oftentimes collected in surveys, interviews, or field research.
Think of it like this:
- Quantitative is “how much?”
- Qualitative is “why is this so?”
When you are analyzing data, you will need to evaluate both types.
Improve Your Analytical Skills on a Daily Basis
Cognitive skills are key to progressing in your career and company. But what can you do to hone them?
Well, there are actually a bunch of really simple things that you can do on a daily basis that will boost your cognitive functions that are quite simple to do.
Take reading for instance. Next time you have a book or a newspaper in front of you, practice some active reading. As opposed to passive reading, active reading means questioning what you read. Ask yourself why the author has arrived at certain conclusions. This way you are activating higher brain function and allowing yourself to think in new ways.
Walking – yes, walking – is another way to stimulate your cognitive skills. Take a stroll and try to use all of your sense to the max. What can you see? What can you remember? Try to note down as much detail as possible after a walk. You might be surprised by what you can remember.
Games like Sudoku, chess, or backgammon can help build mathematical and strategic capabilities. And playing has the huge advantage of being fun.
And talking to others – meeting new people – is a chance to learn new things and gathering information, while honing interpersonal skills at the same time. Ask questions, explore alternative perspectives, and think about different approaches.
Improving your analytical skills will help you break down complex information and streamline problem-solving processes – which are critical skills in today’s job market.