If you are a business analytics professional, don’t want to code and are happy to work with GUI based tools to carry out data analysis, it is about time we had this discussion. GUI based tools are great to start with but there are many things you are missing out on if you are not coding. It is sort of like eating prepared food every day when you know you could substantially enhance the taste & flavor if only you knew how to cook! Many of these points in favor of coding could actually make your life easier than even using the GUI tool. Here is why I think you should learn to code as a business analyst:
1.Automation: Converting your point and click routine to a code which can be run anytime and can be even scheduled to run on its own, is a big plus when it comes to programming your solutions. You don’t need to worry about going through 15 mins of point, clicking, dragging and dropping routine for this daily report anymore. Also no errors!
2. Version Control: As a business analyst you know that data changes its behaviour quite often and you have to adapt your solution accordingly. Programming your solution creates a way to document versions of the solution process. Keep those old codes handy and you have a very easy way to roll back to older versions whenever you need to.
3. Iterations: Going through pointing and clicking routine once in a while is alright. But as a business analyst when you are building your solutions the first time, you have to go through a lot of iterations of many possibilities, tweaking some parameters etc. It soon becomes tiresome to repeat the entire process to make a small tweak in some parameter. On the other hand if you have a code, you have to make that small change without touching anything else and just run your code one more time. That alone should be a winning argument , but i have got more.
4. Latest algorithms: None of the licensed GUI programs come packed with latest advances in predictive modelling. Because it takes a lot of time to develop and incorporate new algorithms to an existing software framework. If you want to keep yourself up to date with the latest advances in the field, you will have to learn to use programming to code those algorithms on your own.
5. Save Work: This point might seem like re-iteration of “Automation”, but its slightly different and of course equally important. Guess what, you can save the code that you are running and pass it along to anyone and they will be on the same page in seconds. You can even export it in PMML form and use it in any other tool. How about that!
6. Tweak Existing Algorithm: GUI frameworks provide almost little to no control over algorithms which work at the backend of your setup. With programming you can achieve that little tweak which you have been so dearly wanting to do.
7. Error Management: All of us know, its a nightmare to keep track of errors if you are going through a point and click routine. You don’t really know at which point you made an error, and worse even if you know, you go through the whole thing again. On the other hand if you are working with a written program, you can quickly find out the source of the error, correct just that part and run it again. Done!
8. The Open Source Trend: More and more organisations are now shying away from pricey licenses and moving towards open source tools like R and Python, most of which happen to be programming languages meant for data analysis. You’ll have to adapt eventually why not start already.
9. It’s Doable: It is not difficult to learn programming for data analysis. The term which is important here is “for data analysis”. These languages or sub-languages are meant to be a business analyst or statistician friendly. When I say that you need to learn programming, it is by no means at par with a software developer. In fact it is rather close to writing formulae on excel. Just a little more advanced.
10. It makes you more desirable: For an employer it’s ok if you know the GUI version of the tool but it’s great if you actually know how the code works and if you could tweak it. A coder will usually get hired before someone who knows only the point & click version.
So start learning coding today!