The Data Analyst: Reading Between the Lines

7 April 2021

Data is a dime a dozen. That is what they often say. According to projections, the volume of data generated annually will increase to 175 zettabytes worldwide by 2025 – by then, machines will generate almost twice as much digital information as there are stars in the universe. It is precisely in these enormous data worlds that the work of Fenja Herbers, data analyst at diconium, begins. But what does a data analyst do? Fenja laughs. “She analyses the data.”

Tracking concepts, tools, and visual answers

In the beginning, there is always a need, the desire of the client to collect certain insights – about booking behaviour on a website, about the usability of the online presence, about the users and their needs. “How can I ensure that the customer receives the appropriate data for this?” is how Fenja formulates one of the initial questions. “Which tool fits the respective needs? Which tracking requests are suitable?” The latter can be page views or event tracking, for example clicks on a website, as well as e-commerce tracking around prices, sales and leads. Always in the back of your mind: the legal component. After all, data protection plays a special role, especially in Germany and in Europe as a whole – and not everything that can be tracked may be tracked in the end. “It is not a task that every analyst loves, but we regularly educate ourselves and attend legal seminars on the subject, among other things,” explains Fenja.

The result is a tracking concept – sometimes 200 to 300 pages – followed by the installation of the respective tools for data collection. “In the last step, the data analyst visualises the data. She prepares the information so that answers to the business questions posed at the beginning can be extracted,” explains the data specialist at diconium. The “cherry on the cake” is the formulation of recommendations for actions, because the analyst is also always a consultant to the customer. Based on the data collected, she points out and recommends how they should react to the results.

Digital literacy and change competence

Fenja Herbers studied information technology and design and later worked in online marketing for a long time. In fact, for the data analysts at diconium, this is often a classic path: “It was no longer enough for me to set up the campaign. I wanted to better understand what the result would be,” she explains her motivation. To this day, her roots in online marketing help her because they extend her view. Goals of a single department, for example, do not always fit with the overall goals of the organisation. “That also always means some change management,” says Fenja.

What else does it take? “You definitely need to be able to read HTML.” Not everything has to be clear in detail, she says, but a basic understanding is important. Analytical thinking is also important. “For example, if the client wants to know how many test drives have been booked, the data analyst needs to have an eye on whether this might be offline data that first needs to be digitised and merged.” Prospective data analysts do not have to understand everything from the start. “But you should have the motivation to want to understand it,” says Fenja. And she is convinced: “Everything can be learned.”

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