2011-05-27

Analytical Skills?

One particular skill listed on many job descriptions I have seen gives me more questions than answers.

The skill they would like the candidate to have is listed as : Analytical Skills


How is this quantified? How do you know that someone has analytical skills?


Wiki defines Analysis as the ability to break down a complex topic or substance into smaller parts to gain a better understanding of it.

To what level of detail does this particular job need Analytical Skills? Will the candidate need to analyze the Enterprise accounting functions? Does it need to be the analysis of the physical server infrastructure? Does it need to be organizational layout? Will the candidate be analyzing forensic evidence?

Analytical skill is such a broad topic, and once a person does their analysis what happens to it? Is this a position that has the ability to not just analyze data, but also act on it? Is the analysis required in the position for recommendation purposes, educational purposes, or will the candidate be making decisions based on data provided by others?

Many people have analytical skills, but do they have good analytical skills? Do decision makers listen to and follow their recommendations after an analysis is done?

Data Management professionals are constantly analyzing data. The raw data can represent many diverse topics. Some of the key topics for analysis that come to mind are People, Processes and Things.

People

The analysis of people, their motivations, and their interactions is covered by subjects like anthropology, psychology, sociology and other behavioral sciences. Some people are naturally gifted people readers and can understand others with limited formal training. The analysis of people is useful to many groups within an organization, human resources, marketing, sales, even executive leadership.

Process

There are many types of processes in our lives, a process for getting a drivers license, getting married, fulfilling a product order, shipping a product, and many others. Understanding and recommending improvements to the nature of the processes that we interact with on a daily basis can be very valuable.

Things


Things can be companies, human languages, computer languages, web pages, corporate ledgers, computers, cars, religions, money, inventories, nature. Every "thing" can be studied and analyzed. The more we understand things the more data we generate about those things in order to contribute to human knowledge, self knowledge or our corporate enterprise.

Data

All things that are analyzed have one thing in common. Data. In all analysis data is what is collected, stored, manipulated, reported, recommended and decided upon.

There are best-practices for data management that can assist every type of analysis of every subject. "Pure" analytical skill is seldom used in a vacuum. Databases store data, operational systems collect data, a data warehouse helps in the correlation of data amongst multiple systems that are gathering data. Data Management by its very nature is an analytical skill.

When I see a position for a data management professional that requires analytical skills, I still find it humorous. Because the analytical skills that we can provide in both our own analysis and in guiding the analysis of others should go without saying.
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