Analyst – division into positions based on the role in the company

When someone asks me what my profession is, I say, “I am an analyst.” Probably at this point in your mind can come up with many connotations related to this position. Perhaps did you also think: “an analyst, but of what, specifically”? This is an accurate reflection because analysis is a very extensive field. On the market, we can find many job offers with the word “analyst” in the name.

Interestingly, depending on the industry or even the company, the role of an analyst may be completely different. It often happens that people holding similar-sounding positions have different duties and vice versa – people who perform very similar tasks work in positions with completely different names.

Analyst - division into positions based on the role in the company

Analyst – similar role, many names

The proliferation of nomenclature for analytical positions can surprise not only people from outside the industry. Narrowing the considerations to the area of new technologies, common positions in the IT industry are:

  • Business Analyst
  • Systems Analyst
  • Data Analyst
  • Business Intelligence analyst
  • Customer Intelligence analyst

and various variants or specializations, e.g. Business and Systems Analyst, IT Business Analyst or Process Analyst.

Attempting to assign hermetic labels and clearly defined job definitions is a big challenge. Of course, we can refer to official definitions proposed by analytical institutions, but the market and business practice show that such divisions do not always reflect reality. Further in the article, based on my experience, I will present the characteristics and individual observations about selected positions.

Division and characteristics of the workstation

Let’s start from the beginning – what binds all the analytics roles together? Regardless of the role of an analyst in a given company, the overriding goal of his work is to support the organization in ongoing projects.

What may differentiate the above-mentioned positions is the way in which a given analyst will perform his duties and the tools he will use. If I were to somehow group the analytical positions, I would divide them into two groups:

  • Software development positions,
  • Data processing positions.

Each analyst is looking for answers to business needs. The first group will look for these answers among the company’s stakeholders and processes, while the second – will explore the collected data.

Business needs specialists – software development

Business Analysis and Systems Analysis are the leading fields in this group. As the name suggests, we include here: business analyst, systems analyst, process analyst and mixed roles of business and systems analyst / IT analyst. Analysts from this group focus in their work on identifying business needs and developing solutions that will bring value to stakeholders.

This was well-defined in the “analyst’s bible”, i.e. the BABOK Guide: “The practice of enabling change in the context of an enterprise by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders.”

Analysts from this group create a kind of “bridge” between the business and the IT team. Therefore, it is important that on the one hand they have knowledge of IT aspects – including software development and engineering – while on the other hand, domain knowledge is important and useful, i.e. knowledge of issues, processes and terminology in a given business area (e.g. insurance, banking, etc.).

The formal differences between these positions will be determined by the area in which they will specialize (closer to business or closer to IT).

Business Analyst

He deals with the analysis of processes in the organization, discovering business needs as well as identifying and managing requirements. It focuses more on identifying the business (high-level) needs of stakeholders than on the technical aspects of the solution. He cooperates with business at a strategic level, which is why knowledge of the business field is important for him.

Process Analyst

He is a specialist who focuses his activities on analysing, optimising and modelling business processes. Useful in his work is knowledge of Lean management, Kaizen, Six Sigma, i.e. concepts supporting more effective management of the enterprise and knowledge of tools and methods of process modelling, e.g. BPMN.

Systems Analyst

This is mainly connected with the world of technology. It translates business needs into more detailed technical requirements. It also focuses on how the functionality will be implemented. He collaborates a lot with the development team, which is why his knowledge in the field of software development is useful.

In practice, however, I see that in a good deal of IT projects it is very difficult to separate these roles, which is why positions have probably been created that combine various competences, such as a business and systems analyst or an IT business analyst. What competences and in what proportion will they be useful will be determined by the project itself, in which the analyst will work. Often, the analyst’s development path begins with a systems analysis, and, depending on experience, also extends to business analysis (in the strategic aspect). Experts in a given business field often change to become a Business Analyst.

Data processing specialists

Business Intelligence focuses on processing and transforming data into information, which is a valuable resource when making strategic business decisions. The positions in this group include Data Analyst, Business Intelligence Analyst and Customer Intelligence Analyst. Analysts in this group deal, among others, with data mining, statistical modelling, reporting and data visualisation. Therefore, their knowledge of mathematics, statistics and econometrics is essential.

Data Analyst

Is someone who collects, processes, structures and analyses data. They search for trends and patterns, and then transform data into information to support making various types of decisions in the enterprise. The scope and type of analyses that he performs are determined by the project or organization in which he works. The same will be true of the tools he uses in his daily work – from the simplest to the most advanced, such as Excel, SPSS, Oracle, SAS.

Business Intelligence analyst

In his work, he focuses on analysing, reporting and visualising data. In his case, knowledge of data warehousing and database programming, e.g. SQL, is useful. Due to the fact that one of the main responsibilities of a BI Analyst is to create reports and dashboards, it is necessary to know data visualisation tools, e.g. Power BI, SAS Visual Analytics, Tableau.

Customer Intelligence analyst

He deals with customer-oriented analytics. Builds segmentation models, analyses customer behaviour in the purchasing process and looks for consumer insights (real customer needs). Additionally, he supports direct marketing campaigns, incl. through the appropriate selection of target groups. All these activities are aimed at supporting the building of an effective relationship with the client. A specialist in this area has knowledge of statistics, econometrics and analytical tools, such as SAS, Oracle, and programming, such as R, SQL, 4GL.

The role of the analyst in the company. Summary

As you may have guessed, these are not all the positions in the area of analysis to be found on the market! The emergence of new specializations is as dynamic as business is. So then, how does one not get lost in it? Perhaps it would be a good idea not to focus only on job titles, but rather to carefully analyse the scope of responsibilities and requirements described, for example, in the job offer.

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