Peter Behan, director at Group Horizon, explains why the analysis of a building’s data is becoming increasingly important as a means to reduce costs and identify strategies for energy reduction.

Every business generates multiple sets of data, both structured and unstructured, which can be utilised to make informed business decisions – but how can organisations be sure that they are maximising results and extracting the information they really need?

Data is now justifiably recognised as a valuable business asset with the potential to shape commercial decisions and determine how organisations are run. But despite the inherent value contained within, data without insight can be practically useless.

This is why data analytics is becoming increasingly widespread and is no longer the sole preserve of large multinationals with substantial spending power. SMEs now have the cost-effective tools and technologies to dive into their data and use it to solve business problems or develop strategies for reducing costs.

Organised information

Structured data typically takes the form of organised information sets that are straightforward to analyse. The very nature of this information makes it easier to interpret and therefore more popular with businesses; however, the real challenge, and often the real value, lies in the unstructured data thought to account for around 80% of all business data. Working with unstructured data can be confusing and time-consuming, with no predefined model or framework to assist in extracting actionable insights. This is where the data analyst comes in.

The process behind the analysis itself involves gathering, inspecting, cleansing, transforming and modelling data. Once this procedure has been methodically performed by the data analyst, insights and trends can be identified which allow definitive conclusions to be formed and used to support future decision making. The data analyst is, therefore, a highly valued asset to businesses of all sizes, taking on the responsibility to consistently handle company data in a compliant and appropriately secure manner.

With more and more businesses looking to make sense of their data, the data analyst is becoming increasingly sought after, with organisations searching for individuals with the ability to scrutinise and understand the valuable information, before producing insightful reports and visuals. The qualified data analyst will have the expertise to work with different types of data stemming from a host of different departments – from sales data to logistics and inventory figures.

Meaningful conclusions

A qualified data analyst has the skills to obtain meaningful conclusions from unstructured data, summarising findings and using visual presentations to tell the whole story in ways that are straightforward to understand. Having a dedicated analyst on board offers a guarantee that all company data is handled in a secure manner and that the processes involved are fully compliant with the relevant legislation.

Using a wide range of analytics tools and applications, the data analyst can play a vital role in deciding how a company acts on certain issues, helping to firm up future plans and guiding the executive team in the right direction. They are often able to offer data comparisons, decipher hidden trends and give the management team advice on changing operating patterns in order to impact the underlying figures in a positive manner. Data in buildings, for example provides a constant source of information that can be checked thousands of times in one hour, giving us the advantage of being able to see where energy is being used to good effect and where it might be wasted.

Responding to the increase in demand for data analytics, Group Horizon launched a new apprenticeship in 2022 – the Data Analyst Apprenticeship Level 4. Reflecting the diverse techniques and approaches used in data analysis, the apprenticeship covers key topics such as data structures, data preparation, datamining, forecasting and modelling, dashboards and infographics, policy and legislation, analysis, reporting and interactivity, and continuing professional development.

Group Horizon

Data analysis can help organisations gain valuable insight into the hidden information they have at their fingertips, giving them the confidence to draw definitive conclusions on the future direction of the company. Businesses that ignore the wealth of internally held information available to them increase the risk of making judgments based on incomplete data – the data analyst can ensure that decisions based around the future direction of the company aren’t left to chance.