Analyst, Visualized

I am a big fan of Drew Conway’s Data Scientist Venn Diagram.

I’ve talked about it before, and it’s even featured in my forthcoming course, “Hired with Excel: What Every Analyst Needs to Know,” defining what makes an analyst.

Today on LinkedIn I saw a new, more complex Data Scientist Venn Diagram.


Here’s the old Venn Diagram for comparison:


In some ways the new diagram violates some principles of data science and visualization. It’s way too complicated, and I’m not sure the extra entry on “communication” is worth the cost of adding.

The analyst niche

But focus on the “analyst” meeting point — defined as someone knowing business, statistics, and communication.

I think I’d be an analyst on here, and this corner is the focus for my blog. I do some occasional programming, but it’s never going to be my main concern. 

Rather, I want to discuss the importance of how to think about data and how to use it in business. That’s why my site’s tagline is “economics and business analytics” — without this domain knowledge, the Excel tips and tricks mean nothing.

Keep “communication” separate?

I wonder whether communication really has to be separated from the other spheres. The original Venn Diagram would have put it under “domain knowledge.”

But, I suppose you can know a lot and not communicate it well. Hence, non-fiction ghostwriters.

What do you think of this new Venn Diagram? And where would you place yourself on it?

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  1. George, great post. I think what is missing from the new improved diagram is that the prefect analyst also has a liberal arts education. One thing I always told my analysts is that a good analyst knows everything. I don’t literally mean everything, but a good analyst can draw lessons from literature, art, sports, politics, etc. If the job of the analyst is to find the big picture, having a broad base to draw from is essential.

    • George Mount says:

      Thanks Matt. I think when employers had a longer payoff horizon they valued this more.

      Now that employees are around for a couple of years they want to get an immediate payoff, which comes from the technical skills.

      Liberal arts students need to compensate by learning a little Excel, a little statistics, etc.

      The ability to attack problems from various angles and frame a story with it is crucial — that’s where a classical education comes in.

  2. Andy Netzel says:

    I think the Communication wrinkle is an intersting one! The difference between head of IT and the Data Scientist is an interesting little divide. Without communication prowess, it’s really tough to prove self relevancy.

    • George Mount says:

      I figured communication would fall under domain knowledge, but maybe not. Hillsdale College does not have a journalism major, because they believe that anyone with a command of the issue should be able to communicate it. Maybe the challenge in the age of text, video, etc, is to know what media is most effective.

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