Myth or Reality? I Don’t Need Data Analytics for My Job
Data is exploding, especially in the Federal sector. Yet, the increase in data analytics has come with an increase in specialized data analyst roles. So, is it a myth or reality that you don’t need data analytics for your job?
It’s a myth! We all need to be—and can be—our own data analysts. Here are some common misconceptions that drive this myth, followed by ways you can use data analytics in your work…even if your title isn’t “Data Analyst.”
Data analysis is a niche skill set, only for elite statisticians. While it’s true that it takes years of training and practice, knowledge of technical systems, or fluency in programming languages and complex databases to perform some forms of data analysis, common data analysis tools make it easy for us all to be our own Data Analyst for many day-to-day needs.
What you can do: If you’re new to data analytics, turn over a new leaf. Tools such as Excel and Tableau are written to be user-friendly. You don’t necessarily need to be technically savvy. You just need to be willing to learn a few new functions.
Computers can perform data analysis for me. Software and computing power are useful tools for performing analysis, but humans still need to guide the analysis, to make decisions about what data to use, to interpret the data, and to present the data. Computers have not replaced us.
What you can do: Learn what software you have access to—you might be surprised. Consider training on basic functions, and be amazed at what you can learn in even one or two days to take advantage of analysis tools in common software such as Excel.
My job doesn’t require me to analyze data. Demand for data-driven decisions is on the rise. Data provides insights into team and organizational performance, project performance, budget utilization. Due to the DATA Act, all agencies will soon be required to provide data analytics as budget justifications, creating a significant demand increase for performance analytics.
What you can do: Become a trusted resource on your team, and catalyst data-driven decisions in your organization. Develop a basic understanding of analytics and how data drives decision-making in your organization, and begin using data to understand and drive performance.
But I don’t work with data at all. You still need to be able to understand data that impacts your job. Your team’s budget, performance benchmarks, goals, and your personal performance appraisals all are shaped by data.
What you can do: Be a smart consumer of data analysis. Cultivate a foundation in analytics so you know how to interpret data that’s presented to you. Learn how to ask questions of data, how to understand analysis assumptions, and which claims data can and cannot validly support.
Even if your primary job function isn’t data analysis, you already work with data on a regular basis. Whether it’s tracking the number of program tasks complete, analyzing larger data sets to inform planning, or simply asking questions of data that’s presented to you, we all need data analytics.
Beyond the workplace, we’re continually presented with data. The need for data analysis skills is not just a valuable professional competency—it’s necessary to be a critical consumer of information. So whether you’re new to analytics or experienced—if your job is in data science or even if it isn’t—it’s time to develop your inner data analyst.