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Data Science vs Data Analytics: Key Differences and Similarities

July 6, 2023

Mile Zivkovic

Find out all the differences and similarities between data science vs data analytics, in our comprehensive comparison.

With the rise of big data as a technology and the overwhelming amount of data that we work with every day, a bunch of new terms were coined. Two of them are data science and data analytics, which are often used interchangeably because both data scientists and data analysts work with big data.

However, there are tangible differences between data science vs data analytics and today, we’re going to show you those differences, as well as the similarities between the two terms.

What is data science?

Data science uses math, statistics, programming languages, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and more to uncover actionable business insights in a company’s data. The data science process usually involves data collection, data exploration, data ingestion, data storage, data engineering, data mining and data processing.

Typically, the data analytics process happens next.

What is data analytics?

Data analytics is the process of taking raw data and distilling it to find trends, patterns, and behaviors that can lead future decision-making. It has a more narrow scope than data science and data analysts typically take the readily available data, visualize it, and present solutions to ongoing problems in a business.

Skills involved include statistical analysis, data visualization, as well as some mathematics - but far less than data science. Data analysts also deal with areas such as predictive analytics, descriptive analytics, prescriptive analytics and diagnostic analytics - all concerned with various stages of solving a problem.

It is also important to differentiate data analytics and business analytics in the realm of data intelligence. Business analytics focuses on the overall implications of data on the entire business. For example, it tells you whether your company should launch an entirely new product to complement based on the readily available data.

Data science vs data analytics - similarities

There are some common areas that are covered in both disciplines.

  • Both help businesses make better, data-driven decisions.
  • Both require some knowledge of programming in various languages, such as SQL, R Python, Java, and others.
  • Both require a working knowledge of statistics, although data science requires a more advanced level.
  • Both require some programming skills, but the languages are entirely different (and depend on the tools being used)

Data science vs data analytics - differences

Even more importantly, there are key differences between data science and data analytics that data-driven businesses should be aware of.

  • Data science looks at data on a macroscopic level, while data analytics deals with microscopic details
  • Data science creates predictive models based on raw data, while data analytics deals with predictive analytics - it entails forecasting what is going to happen based on analyzed data
  • Data science discovers new questions about data that you did not know you even had, while data analytics uses the existing data to solve immediate problems.
  • Data science focuses on data management, machine learning and data wrangling, while data analytics deals with data visualization
  • Data scientists need to be familiar with big data platforms such as Hadoop, or Apache Spark, while data analysts need to have working knowledge of BI/data visualization tools such as Tableau, PowerBI, SAS and many others.
  • Data scientists need to be more versed in math-related skills such as statistics, algebra, probability and calculus, while data analysts need to be handy with SQL and Excel. 
data science vs data analytics skills
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Working as a data scientist vs data analyst

A data scientist uses a combination of machine learning, and mathematical and statistical models to extract, clean, process, and interpret data and get meaningful insights from it. They use data modeling processes and machine learning algorithms to get insights from that data.

On the other hand, a data analyst works with a clean dataset that may or may not come from a data scientist. They take this data, organize and structure it, and then do data analysis to find relevant patterns. After the analysis, they do data visualization (in business intelligence tools such as Luzmo, Tableau, PowerBI) to show that data in an easily digestible format, such as dashboards, graphs, charts, tables, and others.

For example, a data analyst could get a set of data about the use of an app over time to determine who are the heaviest users of an app, what they use it for, what features are the most valuable to them and more.

In other words, data analysts take complex data and translate it into a common language that anyone can understand and make business decisions from it. 

As you can see, the roles of a data scientist overlap quite a bit so it’s easy to see why the two terms are often confused.

Data science vs data analytics - which is the better career path?

We really can’t tell you that as both are great career choices for a young professional with a passion for data. As we continue building our world around big data, both will be in demand in the future. Both require a bachelor’s degree as a basis for starting.

data scientist vs data analyst
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The great news is that both a data scientist and a data analyst job have identical educational backgrounds and similar skill sets. You’ll need skills in computer science, statistics (different levels), mathematics, IT, and some programming for both careers. Of course, you’ll also need the basics such as problem-solving and critical thinking skills to be a pro in either role.

You can try out both and switch careers at some point once you figure out what suits you better. If you have better analytical skills and prefer solving problems in real-time, you might like data analyst roles better. If you’re more passionate about statistics, database management, data wrangling and managing large datasets, a data science career is a better career choice.

Which is better, data science or data analytics?

It depends on your business needs, if you’re thinking about hiring a data scientist or a data analyst. The truth is, you might want to hire both if you have the needs and the budget. It’s not an either/or kind of situation.

Data science is useful for any organization as it can help organize unstructured data and prepare it for further use. If you have large volumes of data sitting around being unused, data science can answer some questions you may not even know you had.

At the same time, data analytics is necessary if you want to put that data into perspective with your business goals. It can help your stakeholders solve the problems you have now by giving you visualizations of your available data.

Once again, if you run a business that handles large volumes of data, it’s best to have both a data scientist and a data analyst on board. This is particularly beneficial when working with big data analytics companies, as they require expertise in both areas to derive meaningful insights.

Wrapping up

Both data science and data analytics are necessary if you take your data seriously. While data science is considered to be a wider discipline (and more senior), data analytics complements it perfectly as it provides actionable insights that most data science does not offer on its own.

And if you do analytics, you’re going to need an easy-to-use, reliable tool for visualizing your data. For stunning analytics dashboards, sign up for a free trial of Luzmo and start visualizing your data - directly within your product.

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