What the Analyst!!

Recently, I got my first opportunity to contribute to another blog. I was expected to write on a non-technical topic for a blog which is run by one of the most technical person I know of. So here’s what I wrote. Original Post from The CyberPlus Blog is here. Visit the blog for some fantastic stuff.

For the first 21 years of life, I only knew the term ‘programming’. It had a mystic quality to it, the whole idea that everything and anything you saw around you could be programmed. Now, programming could be analogous/hardware based, or digital/software based. A simple example could be how your fan is programmed to rotate at higher speeds as the regulator is turned upwards, versus how your latest TV is programmed to switch channels when you press the swap or back button on your remote, retrieving data from its flash memory about which was the previous channel. I had understood this much by the time I turned 21. And I had learnt a few lines of BASIC programming, heard of FORTRAN & COBOL, of the ubiquitous C, and the scary JAVA. But that was the limit of my information on programming, and that’s where I intended to keep it.
Then, one day, I joined a bioinformatics PG Diploma course. Based on the information I heard from the faculty about the course, I was confident that I could survive by doing minimal programming, and by making sure my grades were good enough in the biology side. I didn’t have anything against programming, but somehow didn’t see myself writing code for a living.
As I progressed through the toughest year of my life, I slowly realized I liked writing code. But the fun I had was not in the code itself, not in making it efficient and perfect. Rather what kept me invested in my programs was the idea of the problem, and that it needed solving, and there could be multiple ways to solve it, and there could be one most efficient & perfect way to solve the problem. But being the lazy person I am, I never probably got to the point of coming up with that ultimate coded solution to any problem.
Then, when time came for me to take up a job, I was recruited in a Multinational Pharmaceutical giant, for a programming position. Over the last 5 years, I have held positions of increasing responsibility in the organization. And as is true with most of these big companies, change is a constant. I went from being called an Analyst, then a Programmer, and back to being an Analyst again. And finally, now that I ponder of my future and next steps in my career, I realize that programming doesn’t necessarily make you a programmer. It is also a tool that will ensure that you can be an Analyst.
What’s an Analyst you ask? Maybe you need to watch from F.R.I.E.N.D.S! System Analyst, Software Analyst, Analyst, Statistical Analyst, Financial Analyst, you can find these terms everywhere, in every company. An Analyst, simply put, is a person who decodes the data held in a database to come up with a solution, or a proposal for a solution. This is based on the data available, and sometimes on the data projected, and is enabled by the programming the Analyst is able to do to retrieve this data and transform it into information. And a solution is what we need, what we want. It’s a pretty cool job title, and a pretty important responsibility in this world of increasing data dependency. The directions taken by the people who drive our society are information driven, and as an Analyst, you are in the thick of providing this information.
And hence, a small request to all my Analyst brothers and sisters out there. Try to write bug-free codes please.

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