59 zettabytes, with one being equivalent to a billion terabytes, is the amount of data currently created, recorded, copied and used in the world, according to an estimate of the market research company Statista.com. Experts predict that by 2024 the volume of information being processed will triplicate, making processing of the flow without artificial intelligence or robotic systems impossible. Data analysts are among those able to supervise and operate automated solutions, while analysing numbers and providing conclusions constituting a foundation for the subsequent corporate and public sector operational strategies.

As a result, this profession is now known to be very promising and is today becoming increasingly irreplaceable, as it not only addresses global challenges, but also seeks a perspective of the world that we will be living in.

See the future while analysing the present

As Danske Bank data analyst Aleksandr Firmov mentions, the profession of data analyst has also been evolving in parallel with the growing volumes of information and the capabilities to process it. This evolution would not be possible without technological progress, because managing that amount of data with human resources alone is simply not feasible. As a result, today, by engaging all necessary technologies, a data analyst works on an enormous volume of information, by systemising, grouping and distributing the information while drawing useful conclusions to be relied on by both businesses and the public sector.

“The result of these activities can be seen in the bank's day-to-day operations. If a quick loan or larger credit card limit is needed, the automated system provides an answer within minutes or seconds. The system rates one’s solvency history, meaning one no longer needs to go to a bank unit, fill out an application and wait a long time for a decision. However, this functionality is just a tiny fragment of data analysis activities. We work with different sources of information in order to connect, analyse and summarise them, and make projections. A data analyst is a specialist who, knowing the present, is trying to predict the future,” – says the Danske Bank expert about his professional specifics.

The activities of this profession concern both work with the existing IT systems and self-programming tools for data analysis. According to Julia Rimšelė, head of the data analyst training entity Vilnius Coding School, such employees in organisations are simply irreplaceable. Based on the conclusions drawn, future decisions are taken and the information provided is used as a basis for building both short- and long-term strategic objectives and actions to achieve them.

“Such kind of work with numbers requires versatility. Analytical thinking, business analysis, ability to spot opportunities, alert indicators and ability to present this to the team and managers. As a result, data analysts must be sharp-minded, react quickly, be knowledgeable about all sorts of processes, and provide information in a reasoned manner. Without these qualities, there can be a number of challenges,” – says Rimšelė.
Demand is growing and will not disappear

A lack of appropriate personal qualities is not the only challenge that can accompany the daily life of a data analyst. According to A. Firmov, quite often it is the scarcity of the information available or its inadequate quality that prevents us from making accurate projections. Thus a data analyst must not only manage, but also model data; this is a process requiring practical expertise, proper training, the ability to assess potential risks and deliver with great precision while also being error-free. 

“This raises the question of whether a specialist is capable of controlling everything on his own. With the developing technological progress, data analysts are being increasingly replaced by artificial intelligence or robotic systems. Numerous new inventions include code writing methods, innovative solutions, larger and faster processors, databases, self-learning machines. Such accelerating processes also mean enhanced requirements. The environment is developing rapidly, so we must keep up,” – says the specialist, reflecting on the peculiarities of the work. 

However, Firmov is convinced – automated solutions will not replace data analysts, as only the latter can manage and maintain information processing technologies: “Qualified specialists make sure these systems work smoothly and correctly. It is the data analysts who are responsible for the operation of IT, process optimisation, and integrated management of the infrastructure”.  

A vision based on numbers  

The demand for data analysts is not only growing because of their ability to manage the increasing amount of global information. The task to address global challenges is also in the hands of these specialists. By analysing correctly accumulated and processed data, they are able to draw conclusions about a wide variety of processes that can only be measured in numbers. 

“Correct identification of the challenge, or just a new hypothesis of the idea, allows us to draw codified conclusions about, for example, climate change. At the same time they seek to find out what lies ahead, and what the most appropriate solutions are,” – reflects Rimšelė.

A Danske Bank spokesman points out that today, technological progress and the ability to pool and analyse increasing volumes of data makes it possible to arrive at ever more accurate conclusions. In Firmov's opinion, the importance of data analytics has recently been particularly highlighted by the outbreak of the global pandemic. For example, a study published by Danske Bank specialists analysed the impact on the economy of different strategies for quarantine compliance. 

“The study involved an assessment of the situation in Scandinavian countries, Denmark and Sweden. The question was whether saving the economy at the expense of the health of the country's population was the proper approach. In Sweden, quarantine restrictions were much less severe than in Denmark. However, the study concluded that although the status of the economy in the two countries was comparable, Denmark lost fewer people to the pandemic than Sweden. In this case, data analysts are able to assess the impact of the state decision, whether it is optimal, as well as the findings allow the authorities to design further strategies, and plan actions,” – Firmov concludes.