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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

5 Minutes with an Analyst: Roger Torrents of Softonic

Analytics can have its downsides, such as when your users see results and don't like them.

Roger Torrents is the head of business Intelligence at Softonic, a popular website devoted to apps, games, and tutorials. He and his team are responsible for all BI initiatives, including data analysis, KPI monitoring, dashboard development, and data visualization. Upside spoke to Roger about his work as an analyst.

What's the one thing you wish people knew about your job?

Roger Torrents: Sometimes the business intelligence or data science teams are seen as "techies," people surrounded by numbers and lines of code. The reality is that if you want to do a good job in this area, you need to understand the business, to know everything you can about the business to be able to help.

In the Internet sector, for example, we need to understand not only the numbers behind the business but also the full user story: from the user visiting our website to the process that decides which ad he or she is going to see, as well as the information our CEO will want to know about the data.

We then define the key information that needs to be tracked and use it to build the most meaningful KPIs by which the business needs to be run.

Are you working on anything interesting right now? If not, what's your dream project?

Perhaps the most interesting thing I'm working on just now is the big data project using cloud technologies.

We've been working with big data for some years know, but working in the cloud adds extra flexibility to all the work. With the cloud, we're able to use the newest tools to analyze data and are not constrained by infrastructure.

What's your favorite part about being an analyst/data scientist? Your least favorite part?

The best thing is that I am involved in almost all of the projects being carried out at the company.

Being deeply involved allows you to be prepared for changes and understand which KPIs really affect the business.

If there's a drop in any KPI and you're not aware of the change, alarm bells go off, so it's better to be informed in advance and not to run to ask when something changes.

My least favorite part, or the worst part you could say, is when people that see numbers and don't like them, they sometimes won't accept them and assume that they are wrong. It's very annoying when you have to rebuild an analysis process and re-review the entire process just to confirm that you were right all along.

What's a typical day like for you? Do you work mostly with a team or mostly alone? Which do you prefer?

In my case, I'm leading a team and we work together all the time, but I also interact a lot with other teams. My preference is to work in close contact with people.

My routine starts by reviewing the main KPI reports sent out during the night to see if there were any major changes or warnings. If there are any red flags, then we rush to recover any missing data or stabilize other urgent situations.

When everything is under control, we then review "internal customers'" needs. We are a service department and we try to work with a Kanban methodology to respond to all the needs as soon as possible.

What's the most common roadblock you hit in your work? How do you deal with it?

It's definitely data availability. Not all information is always accessible, at least at the time or at the level you need it. Sometimes you need wait for somebody to send you the data, or create manual processes, or make assumptions to be able to cross the information needed for a report or analysis.

About the Author

James E. Powell is the editorial director of TDWI, including research reports, the Business Intelligence Journal, and Upside newsletter. You can contact him via email here.

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