Gain that analytical edge – Article in The Hindu by Pradeep Gulipalli

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An article written by Pradeep Gulipalli was published in The Hindu. An excerpt:

Business analytics programmes often do a commendable job in equipping their graduates with techno-functional mindset, business thinking, and communication skills. However, looking back at some of the fresh graduates of business analytics programs I have worked with, I find these graduates have some blind spots they need to work on if they were to grow to their full potential.

Some key lessons that will benefit anyone embarking on a career in business analytics:M/span>

Understand the problem

Before beginning to solve the problem, make sure you understand it. Speak to all stakeholders in detail to get an understanding of their needs. You should be able to comprehend and articulate how solving it will impact the business. A well-defined problem statement, agreed upon by all stakeholders is the first step. If a problem is unstructured in nature and/or the objective is mere exploration, agree upon that as part of scope.

Understand data

The first order of business after you gain access to the data is to understand it in detail before jumping into any analysis. Evaluate the health of the data — missing values, the number of fields and types, anomalies, internal consistency and so on. Understand what different fields mean and how they are related to each other. Question how various business users have been interpreting and using data. Before you start your analysis or modeling in earnest, slice, dice and explore data and develop a good sense of what it is revealing.

Tools come and go

Do not fall into the trap of merely becoming an expert tool user who can solve a specific problem. Develop into an expert problem-solver using relevant tools to get the job done. There is a difference between the two mainly with respect to how one approaches the problem. This distinction is important because there is an unprecedented proliferation of analytics tools in the market. Today’s hottest tools might be replaced by more effective ones in the future. In order to stay relevant, focus on problem-solving and adapt to new tools.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Learn how to communicate your results visually. While you might be good at business analytics, realise that stakeholders might not be interested or have the time to understand all the details. Cut out irrelevant information. Use the right charts in the right places. Pay attention to design details. Visualisation is one of the most important and often ignored areas of analytics, and it can make or break the adoption of your analyses.

Learn to build a story

Think of yourself as a detective at a crime scene. You would look around for clues, gather evidence, test your hypotheses — proving some and disproving others, bring together various pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to build a story and draw a conclusion. The same holds good when solving a business analytics problem. You need to be able to narrate a compelling story based on the results of your analyses. Make sure you round out each project with a clear and concise summary of your findings and recommendations on further steps for stakeholders.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/features/education/Gain-that-analytical-edge/article16081424.ece/

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