Difference between Business Analyst and Data Analyst

F​or most people, the terms data analyst and business analyst might seem the same. These two terms are often used interchangeably and people tend to overlook the minute difference that exists between them. On proper examining, you will find the difference in the ways in which these two professionals function, the set of skills they possess and the clients they work with and cater to. In smaller organisations, these two roles might overlap, but in bigger structured organisations, a data analyst and a business analyst have different roles to play.

Let’s have a look on how these profiles differ.

Business Analyst

The job of a business analyst requires examining the prerequisites of the organisation about their operations and functions. These requirements are then translated to physical and financial aspects, with software and hardware detailing which will help in finding the best possible financing solution. Tasks like designing and implementing new systems are also included in the profile of a business analyst. Business analysts test both the legacy and new systems and recommend changes after their assessment. Thus, their work deals with the entire organisational structure so that it meets the stakeholders’ requirements.

A business analyst is required to have expertise in the industry in which they function. A business analyst working for a finance company must be good with numbers and understand calculations for a payback period and internal rate of return as both are needed for the calculation of ROI( return on investment). They use various tools to analyse and manipulate data. They should also possess excellent communication skills so that they can easily convey the technical data messages to the clients in a way that is understandable to even those who might lack technical knowledge. They usually resolve cases which are related to end user interactions with computer systems and hence should have good problem-solving skills too.

Data Analyst

A data analyst collects data, manipulates it, analyses and consequently prepares reports in the form of graphs, charts and dashboards giving a detailed insight into what they have inferred from the data. They also protect the company’s data assuring that consistent and reusable results are obtained from the data.

Data analysts are required to possess sharp technical knowledge coupled with excellent industry knowledge. They act like security guards of the company keeping the data safe and also possess a strong and thorough understanding of the relationships that the organisation’s databases hold. They use complex query statements and technologically advanced database tools to extract information from these databases. They are also sometimes known as data scientists and play an instrumental role in providing a deep insight into the organisation’s data list.

Thus, the difference between a data analyst and a business analyst lies in the set of skills they possess and the type of clients they interact and handle. Business analysts interact with developers and computer system users, develop certain software that fall in their domain and hence are also called system analysts too.

Data analysts, on the other hand, possess expertise in handling various databases of the company, contemplating and interpreting them and analysing them efficiently to study the market. These reports made by them help the company in making wise decisions and setting goals.

So, to conclude, we can say that while a business analyst works on the company infrastructure, a data analyst works with business data structures.