Blog > Data Analytics > Business Analyst vs Data Analyst: What’s the Difference?

Business Analyst vs Data Analyst: What’s the Difference?

by | Apr 23, 2024


In the fast-paced landscape of modern businesses, data reigns supreme. As we always emphasise, data is king. Thus, it’s only natural that the roles of business analysts and data analysts have become increasingly important. As organisations strive to leverage data for making informed, strategic decisions to rise above competition, being aware of the nuanced distinctions between these two roles also becomes paramount. 

Of course, they do have similarities, but think of them more as fraternal twins – similar, yet different. In this article, we’ll be delving deeper into the realms of business analysis and data analysis, where we’ll be uncovering their unique skill sets, responsibilities, contributions to organizational success, career paths, and salaries in today’s data-driven era. 

Understanding the Roles 

Before we take a deep dive, let’s first make sure we’re on the same page. Let’s establish clear definitions of what constitutes a business analyst and a data analyst. 

Business Analyst

A business analyst acts as the middleman between several stakeholders in an organisation, translating business needs into actionable insights. They analyse processes, systems, and workflows to identify areas for improvement. With that information, they then devise strategies to enhance efficiency and productivity. 

Business analysts often play a crucial role in requirement gathering, solution design, and project management.

Data Analyst 

Meanwhile, a data analyst specialises in interpreting and analysing data to uncover and extract meaningful insights. They are expected to demonstrate advanced skills in data manipulation, statistical analysis, and data visualisation. 

Data analysts are usually adept at identifying trends, patterns, and correlations within datasets. In this way, they provide valuable insights that inform strategic decision-making across different functional areas of an organisation. Read our beginner’s guide to data analytics here to find out more!


While both business analysts and data analysts deal with data, their skill sets and areas of expertise differ significantly.

Role of a Business Analyst 

As mentioned above, business analysts serve as a liaison between different parties in an organisation. For instance, they act as a bridge between business stakeholders and technical teams. Usually, business analysts start off by doing a comprehensive examination of existing business processes. During this process, they identify areas for improvement and gather requirements from relevant teams within (or outside of) the organisation. 

Some common requirements include requests to streamline workflows and increase operational efficiency to implement new technology solutions. Business analysts then translate these requirements into detailed functional specifications and use cases that serve as the blueprint for technical teams to develop solutions. Business analysts basically act as the spokesperson for stakeholders from the start to end of each project, ensuring that the final solution meets their needs. Most importantly, business analysts ensure that the solution is aligned with the organisation’s vision and goals.  

In addition, business analysts also play a pivotal role in change management, facilitating the adoption of new processes or systems by providing training and support to end-users.

Role of a Data Analyst 

On the other hand, data analysts focus on harnessing the power of data to drive informed decision-making within an organisation. But if you’ve been following our blog posts, you should know that by now – given the amount we talk about data analytics! 

To start, data analysts collect and organise data from a plethora of sources. This includes databases, spreadsheets, and external sources. Once the data is aggregated, data analysts clean and preprocess it to ensure accuracy and consistency. Through the use of statistical analysis techniques (e.g., descriptive statistics, regression analysis, etc.), and data visualisation tools (e.g., Tableau) data analysts uncover hidden insights and patterns within the data. These insights could range from customer behavior patterns and market trends to operational inefficiencies and performance metrics.

Furthermore, data analysts also play a crucial role in designing and maintaining data infrastructure, including databases, data warehouses, and data lakes. They do so to ensure that data remains accessible and secure for analysis. Lastly, data analysts collaborate closely with stakeholders from different departments to understand their analytical needs and deliver actionable insights which lead to strategic decision-making. 

Skill Sets and Expertise 

Business Analyst Skills 

Because of their role as a middleman between business objectives and technical solutions, business analysts require a multifaceted skill set. Beyond technical skills, business analysts should possess effective communication skills to navigate complex stakeholder landscapes and translate different perspectives into cohesive requirements. Moreover, business analysts should also have strong problem-solving abilities to be able to identify gaps in current processes and come up with creative solutions. 

To succeed in their role as a business analyst, they will need to have a comprehensive understanding of relevant business operations and industry trends. This will enable them to align their analytical findings with overarching strategic goals. Lastly, project management skills – throughout their projects, business analysts take on the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of solutions, whilst ensuring that stakeholder expectations and timelines are met all within budget. 

You can say that business analysts are basically the jack of all trades, with many roles to play. 

Data Analyst Skills 

On the other hand, data analysts are the architects of insights, whereby they harness the power of data to drive informed decision-making. At the very least, data analysts should be proficient in data manipulation tools and programming languages (e.g., SQL, Python, or R), as this will allow them to extract, transform, and analyse large volumes of datasets efficiently.

Another essential quality data analysts should acquire is statistical prowess, which is required to employ advanced statistical methods for uncovering patterns, correlations, and trends within datasets. Coupled with statistical acumen, data analysts should also be proficient in data visualisation. This is needed for data analysts to communicate complex insights in a clear and compelling manner via interactive dashboards and reports. 

Additionally, data analysts should also have a strong foundation and understanding of database management systems and data warehousing principles to effectively structure and organise data for analysis. Lastly, domain expertise in specific industries or functional areas enhances the ability of data analysts to contextualise findings and derive actionable insights tailored to business needs.

Contributions to Organisational Success 

As you’d probably expect, both business analysts and data analysts play integral roles in driving organisational success, albeit in different ways (but that’s the beauty, isn’t it?)

Contributions of a Business Analyst 

Business analysts contribute to organisational success by optimising business processes, improving operational efficiency, and identifying growth opportunities. Through the alignment of technological solutions with strategic business objectives, business analsyts allow organisations to adapt to changing market conditions and rise above fierce competition.

Contributions of a Data Analyst 

Meanwhile, data analysts empower organisations to make data-informed decisions by providing actionable, meaningful insights that were derived from data analysis. Data analysts help to identify market trends, customer preferences, and operational inefficiencies. This then facilitates the optimisation of organisational strategies and performance. 

Data analysts also play a critical role in fostering a culture of data-driven decision-making across the organisation, driving innovation and continuous improvement. With a data analyst, you’ll never have to worry about making unfounded decisions. 

Career Paths and Salaries 

Now, on to something many of us are curious about – the respective career paths and salaries. When considering career paths, both business analysts and data analysts offer promising trajectories within the realm of data-driven organisations. 

Business Analyst Pathway 

Business analysts can look forward to opportunities for advancement into roles such as senior business analyst, project manager, or even business consultant. With their strong foundation in understanding business processes and requiremheirents, business analysts can transition into strategic roles where they influence high-level decision-making within organisations. 

In terms of pay, the average salary for a business analyst typically ranges from SGD 55,000 to SGD 90,000 annually. 

Data Analyst Pathway 

For data analysts, they will also have a wide array of career opportunities available to them. With time, they can be promoted into roles like data scientists, business intelligence analysts, or data engineers, depending on their expertise and interests. Data analysts proficient in machine learning, artificial intelligence, or big data technologies may find themselves in high demand – aka, roles with higher salaries and even leading cutting-edge projects within their organisations. 

We’ve written a comprehensive article detailing the pathway of data analysts here – check it out! 

With regards to pay, take a look for yourself below – you won’t be disappointed. Data analysts usually earn between SGD 60,000 and SGD 100,000 per annum. You’ll notice that this is slightly higher than that of their counterparts. This is because with experience, data analysts may choose to specialise in niche areas such as data science or machine learning, which leads to opportunities for higher earnings.

Data Analyst

















Convinced to join us in the data world? Check out our data analytics  beginner course DA100: Data Analytics with SQL and Tableau, where you’ll gain a strong foundation in… data analytics (and more of course!). 

To conclude, the roles of business analysts and data analysts are indispensable in today’s data-driven landscape. Whichever you decide to go with,  there  will be an abundance of opportunities for growth, advancement, and financial rewards.

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