zz: A Data Analyst's Typical Day

What is a typical day for a data analyst? Is it one that begins with a commute to work and ends with a commute home? Is it one that finds the data analyst satisfied with his/her day or frustrated and/or angry? Does this analyst sleep peacefully or dream of blue screens? Does the morning find the data analyst excited at the prospect of new challenges or hoping that the day goes quickly?My days include all of the above possibilities. Some are more interesting and enjoyable than others. But the reason I keep at it? As a data analyst, I often find myself loosing track of time and place as I:

1. Learn to use new software to answer old business questions
2. Discover the source data that causes the problems downstream
3. Uncover simpler ways of doing things
4. Forage through rows of data, realizing patterns
5. Build new reports that answer unusual end-user questions
6. Modify reports to correct longstanding problems
7. Listen intently to a manager, translating what she says into data fields
8. Design queries for different legacy databases using multiple BI packages
9. Figure out how tho make these queries yield comparable data
10. Present reports to customers that elicit good questions and no doubts

I have managed people and projects, and sold products and relationships. All of these activities have proved challenging, but none has captured my attention in the way data analysis does. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a brilliant observer of human experience, calls this experience 'flow.' Flow is a psychophysiological state that occurs when people perform challenging tasks, feeling intense concentration and a sense of commitment.

That's me, a data analyst, staring at a computer screen, feeling that this user's question is the most important thing. A thrill charges through me when I discover how the *!$%#@! (innacurate) data is getting into the database. I enjoy a brief sense of confidence when I identify a business trend that is built on (relatively) clean data.

BTW, I call myself a data -- or a business -- analyst. I realize that data analyst, database analyst, systems analyst, business analyst, reporting specialist, etc. are used interchangeably in today's job market. Until you read the job description, there's no way to know the skills needed. I've decided that this an issue that doesn't interest me. As far as I can tell, job descriptions cause more problems than they solve. They are commonly static, hierarchical, and vague in a business climate/world that isn't.

If you want, tell us all what you think about any of the above. I'd like to have a more accurate understanding of how strange I really am -- relative to the rest of you.
posted @ 2010-01-06 19:26 飘翎 阅读(...) 评论(...) 编辑 收藏