Defining roles between business analysis and data analytics

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One of today’s hottest jobs has a bit of a PR problem.

As big data gets bigger and process technologies rapidly evolve, the traditional role of a business analyst is often confused with tasks otherwise slated for its more technical counterpart the data scientist.

This confusion makes it difficult for companies as they try to recruit the right people with proper skills. While job reports repeatedly rank data careers at the top, the definition of those jobs remains murky with buzzwords muddying the meaning.

“We need, as an industry, to get that term defined,” explained Scott Gnau, president of Teradata Data Lab, a research firm, in a CNBC report on the demand for big data skills.

While data scientists and business analysts both aspire to uncover valuable insights, there are important distinctions. Data scientists work to uncover commonalities using data mining techniques. Business analysts extract information use research and face-to-face inquiry to find ways to improve efficiency and profitability.

Of course, big data skills are increasingly critical for business analysts but the bigger need is for professionals who can communicate both data insights and business needs to technical teams and senior executives to help the organization make better informed business decisions.

Still, uncovering winning solutions is only part of the equation. Business analysts need to be able to develop and implement well-structured processes as well.

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), there is an increased demand for professionals who understand not only how to analyze information but also incorporate those findings into strategic plans that will meet various client needs and align with the overall goals of the organization, especially its financial ones.

To help better prepare professionals to deliver on these in-demand skills, UC San Diego Extension developed the specialized certificate, Business Analysis Tools and Strategies. Following guidance from PMI, the courses were designed to help professionals establish a foundational standard in business analysis that encompasses project management techniques.

The certificate program will provide professionals with tools to address the wide range of financial operational functions as well as have opportunity to practice elicitation techniques, detailing how to effectively collect, document and communicate data information to better deliver better results. Regardless of the field, courses aim to provide practical instruction to help achieve overall improved business performance as well as provide resources that will help professionals tackle project-related issues.

For more information, visit extension.ucsd.edu/bizanalysis, or contact Joyce Short at jmshort@ucsd.edu or call (858) 534-8189.



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