How Automation is Changing the Role of Analysts For Good

The global pandemic has accelerated the need for digital transformation because of how and where we now work—from anywhere. As a result, many organizations are realizing the gap they have between the skills they need and the skills people have. 74% of CEOs taking part in PwC's 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey said that a lack of availability of the right skills is a concern. Only 18% of CEOs said they had made significant progress establishing comprehensive upskilling programs.

This means it is upon us as individuals and teams to take an inventory of the skills we possess and what’s required to drive positive outcomes for our businesses and careers. For companies pivoting and creating efficiencies in their businesses to weather the storm, analysts who can chart a course to safe harbor have never been more valuable. These are the analysts of the future.

There has never been a better time to work in the world of analytics and data science, and I’m excited to be presenting with Yasmine Ndassa from Comcast at Beyond 2020 on December 10th to discuss the future of business analysts and what it takes to stay ahead.

You see, analyst skills and job titles have been as dynamic and innovative as the technologies used to hone their craft. In the past 20 years we’ve gone from “decision support teams” using report writers on mainframes and databases to “business intelligence analysts” with self-service query builders, “statisticians” using SAS and R for anything that wouldn’t fit neatly in a relational database, and code-hungry “data scientists” for the world of big data. The technology and roles in many ways have become more sophisticated. But is the job harder? What has changed?

Much like "citizen data scientists" have emerged by taking advantage of augmented analytics that use machine learning and AI to "assist" the user in gaining deeper insights, the analyst of the future is empowered by similar advances around search-based, self-service analytics. There has always been a push to provide self-service analytics to business users to make informed decisions. It’s always been about connecting the “people” to the “data” to get deeper customer insights, analyze business risk, and more.

To achieve this, ThoughtSpot delivers a Google-like experience for enterprise analytics data, obfuscating all the scale and complexity inherent in modern cloud data stores to allow non-technical business users to ask and answer their own questions. Alteryx and ThoughtSpot together empower the analyst of the future by creating a more robust self-service BI environment where analysts can enable their colleagues throughout the organization to answer their own data questions.

Alteryx simplifies all the data prep, enrichment, and predictive modeling necessary for new data sources, and ThoughtSpot makes it easy for non-technical business teams to answer their own questions from that data. This significantly reduces the burden placed on analysts and virtually eliminates the backlog of business intelligence reporting requests. With this newfound freedom, the analyst of the future will create more robust data models, enhanced by additional data sources and predictive analytics, that will answer more sophisticated business questions. 

So, what’s next for the analyst of the future? “Citizen data scientist” is the right idea, but arguably the wrong title for the analyst of the future (besides, I have yet to meet anyone with “citizen” in their title). Why? Because for analysts to level up to perform advanced analyses with no-code/low-code AI and ML, they must first free up some of that 51% of time they spend simply searching for data and the 47% of time they spend preparing data for analysis. This requires the automation of repeatable business processes to reduce cycle times and free analysts from repetitive manual data processes. It’s that magical convergence of automated and accessible data inputs, automated analytic processes, and the amplification of human output that supports sustained, transformative business and workforce outcomes.

We’re seeing citizen-led automation of data-driven processes as the next frontier of business innovation. The analyst of the future connects data and insights to business processes and looks to automate the mundane to be able to focus on not only the insights but connecting them to operational processes to automate actions. We call this analytic process automation (APA), which drives ROI across both business outcomes (cost savings, top-line growth, and risk reduction), as well as workforce transformation in terms of knowledge worker productivity and upskilling.

For example, a top 5 retailer has been able to go from monthly to daily merchandising optimization for 100% of SKUs in 2,000+ stores through analytic automation. A major healthcare provider was able to reduce patient wait times in observation by 22% and perform predictive staffing 4-6 months out across 200+ departments.

Alteryx has been at the center of helping analysts and knowledge workers get their jobs done faster with drag-and-drop data preparation and blending and advanced analytics for integration with modern analytics platforms like ThoughtSpot. Come see what leading-edge companies like Comcast are doing with ThoughtSpot and Alteryx and how to develop your skills as an analyst of the future.