As more organizations collect massive amounts of data - everything from customer interactions and sales trends to employee productivity - there's a growing need for highly skilled employees who will analyze the data and make it actionable in a way that drives smart business decisions. This might mean sorting through employee data to make HR decisions or understanding consumer behavior, so as to facilitate an action plan for website usability.
What Is an Associate Analyst?
Typically, an associate analyst is a junior member of the team, who has from one to five years of experience and who reports to more senior-level analysts or to the operations manager. Work duties include setting up reporting systems and collecting data; using analytical skills to understand how the data affects business decisions; and preparing reports that detail findings and recommend solutions. Although associate analysts often perform much of the methodical collection and data analysis - and they may make initial recommendations - typically, it is the managers or company executives who make the final business decisions.
It's important to note that analysts are needed across different parts of an organization - from finance and operations to IT and marketing.
What Is a Business Solutions Analyst?
One of the most in-demand analyst jobs is in operations or business solutions. Here, a team researches IT or business solutions, which would include everything from accounting software to automated customer-chat technology, which would facilitate customers' understanding the connection between a firm’s information technology capabilities - or what it's lacking in IT technology - and business objectives. The main objective is to put business processes and technology in place, which will drive profitability, by focusing on areas such as increasing productivity, which enables businesses to better meet consumer demands or to reduce labor costs via automation.
What Is a Market Research Analyst?
While operations and business analysts focus their attention internally on putting systems in place to drive business goals, market analysts look outward to understand consumers. They might analyze competitor and sales data or use third-party consumer research to more fully understand who a business' consumers are, what they want and how much they will pay for a product. After collecting the data, the job then entails putting a plan together to target consumers with messaging that resonates in the channel they wish to be contacted - such as, does the candidate like direct mail or does the want to be marketed to via Facebook; ultimately, the findings might target not only marketing a product or service, but also suggestions as to how to improve the product, itself.
Typically, a bachelor's degree is required, for a more technical or financial role; some organizations may prefer someone who has a master's degree or who has more than a year of work experience. Top skills include:
- Having written and verbal communication, including the ability to explain findings concisely and to make clear recommendations based on those findings.
- Having an understanding of business systems and common enterprise technology.
- Having the ability to conduct cost/benefit analyses.
- Having business case development and presentation skills.
- Having an understanding of modeling techniques and methods.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for associate analysts and other types of analyst roles are expected to increase through 2026. The average growth rate for a business operations analyst is about 27 percent, with a median annual wage of $81,390, as of May 2017. Meanwhile, the job growth rate for market research analysts is expected to be about 23 percent, with a median annual wage of $63,230, as of May 2017.