/* */ How is the role of the 'Analyst' changing in a data driven world? |SQL Works

Friday, October 12, 2012

How is the role of the 'Analyst' changing in a data driven world?

     I remember the days when I was considered a top notch resource when it came to answering data driven questions. My Excel sheets were sparkling, my PowerPoint slides were beautiful, and my MS Access database was driving it all. In those days, when you needed to know how many widgets the sales team had sold, you asked them for their results sheet, and probably received it by email. When you needed to see attendance records for the call centers, they replied with their own spreadsheet, and a few paper based updates perhaps. After you had all your data collected and entered or imported to Access you could do with it what you pleased, and get some results worth sharing. But those days are gone, over the last 10 years I have witnessed an amazing transition from the scenario I describe above to the new paradigm of the 'Analyst' as power user and SQL dabbler. The data companies house internally is larger and more broad than ever before and growing quickly, and in order to present informed conclusions about a business, market or customer group, you need to be able to intelligently ask questions of these large stores of data.
     Enter the new 'Analyst', someone who is expected to know how to interact with databases like never before and to collate and present data from varied sources. Where a job description from those bygone days might have read "requires advanced MS Office suite knowledge" it is typical now to see requirements similar to "Must be familiar with SQL querying and tools such as SQL Server, Toad for SQL or PC SAS in order to gather results".


     So how does this impact the DBA and database professional in the enterprise? More time is spent assisting users with their queries that's for sure, and I'm betting I am not the only one who has to design new database and data warehouse infrastructure around an ever growing population of 'power users' who will be beating on my server nearly 24 hours a day. How has this paradigm shift toward a more technically 'dangerous' base of users affected your database design? Are you having to provide for many different levels of access, monitor who can access what type of information with a new level of granularity, and keep on top of performance like never before? I know I am.
     Is this good for SQL Server professionals in general, absolutely yes! The data dependent enterprise requires our skills more than ever, and the horde of users require our care and guidance like never before. In order to get information out of data, it must be available when we are, it must handle our requests quickly and reliably and it must be trustworthy, all attributes that are impacted by the Database Administrator and Developer. I feel great about the future demand for my skills and services in the data driven company, how do you feel?