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Technical Understanding (Data Competencies)

The final requirement that we must make of analysts is that they have a basic understanding of how to retrieve and process data. Again, this is about how to structure processes because just as analysts have to sometimes draw on support from the business in connection with the creation of information and knowledge, they must also be able to draw directly on data warehouse competencies. If, for instance, an analyst needs new data in connection with a task, it's no good if he or she needs several days to figure out how Structured Query Language (SQL) works, what the different categories mean, or whether value-added tax is included in the figures. We therefore need the data warehouse to have a support function where people understand their role in the BA value chain. However, analysts spend about 80 percent of their time retrieving and presenting data, so we also have to place some clear demands on the analysts' competencies in connection with data processing.

In conclusion, analysts need to master three professional competencies to be successful: business, method, and data. We can add to this certain key personal competencies: the ability to listen and to convince. These are necessary if a task is to be understood, discussed with all involved parties, and delivered in such a way that it makes a difference to business processes and thereby becomes potentially value-adding.

All in all, it sounds as if we need a superhero. And that might not be far off, considering the fact that this is the analytical age. And, if we recognize information as a potential strategic asset, then this is another area in which we need to invest, both in the public education sector and in individual companies. Note, however, that these personal and professional skills do not necessarily need to be encompassed in a single person; they just need to be represented in the organization and linked when required. We will discuss this in more detail in Chapter 7, where we discuss BA in an organizational context.

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