The Data Analyst. Artistry in Business.

October 23rd, 2012 by IMadmin Leave a reply »

Written by: Dan Ganancial, Consultant at Ivanhoe & McToterson

Sergei Rachmaninoff, a prolific composer and excellent pianist, composed a piece that has one of the most beautiful melodies and musical themes ever. That piece is his Piano Concerto No. 2 – 2nd Movement Adagio Sostenuto. Here is a link to that song if you want to hear it.

Did you listen to it? Isn’t it marvelous? Rachmaninoff does a great job of eliciting deep emotion and expression from the listener through the use of moving melodic lines and accompanying harmony. In return, the audience is audibly engaged and entertained.

So, what does Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto have to do with being a data analyst? Well, like Rachmaninoff, data analysts can also express creativity and artistic genius through their work. When Rachmaninoff sat at the piano trying to figure out what notes to play, he analyzed what notes would sound good together, what chords would create a compelling musical theme, and what musical themes would be relevant to his masterpiece. The data analyst does the same thing every day – he or she analyzes data in order to find out which data fit together, which data can be combined to create insightful themes, and how those data-driven themes are relevant to strategic business objectives and decision-making.

Have you ever watched a painter paint? Each brushstroke builds upon the last until what was once a bare canvas is covered in a symphony of colors. Those colors present a picture of visual stimulation and engagement to the viewer. Again, the data analyst does the same thing. He or she must collect, analyze, compile and prepare the various colors of data to “paint a picture” of what is going on within the business. That “painted picture” tells a story.

Walt Disney knew and understood how to tell a good story. He told stories that people would remember and talk about. To this day the Walt Disney Company remains one of the greatest story-telling organizations in the world thanks to one man’s desire to create and tell a good tale. Now, I am not saying that a data analyst has the power to make his or her organization become the greatest story-telling organization in the world, but what I am saying is that a data analyst does tell a story every time he or she presents information. The creative data analyst tells a great story.

One of my former bosses said this to me “Being a data analyst is fun! It’s fun because you get the chance to paint a picture and tell a story with your data. Story-telling is in our nature and we all love a good story.”

Data analysts (or sometimes called data scientists) are growing in importance and demand in today’s business world. They play a very integral part in strategic operations. To you the data analyst, thank you for continuing to provide artistry and creativity in business.

For more information on the growing field of data analysis, check out this HBR article Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century.


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