By Matt Howes and David Luu-Van
Matt Howes is a Senior Business Intelligence Manager and David Luu-Van is a Senior Business Intelligence Analyst at Avvo.
There’s a lot of media attention around “Big Data” as tech’s hottest field. With so many different roles within the field, we wanted to provide a closer look at the business intelligence work here at Avvo.
At a high level, we analyze data and develop insights on how the company can do better. This might include looking at traffic data, developing statistical models, or evaluating sales data. Essentially, our job is to help our colleagues understand how things are going and how we might improve. This requires us to look at raw data and other data. But to be truly successful, we need to stay current on different topics, such as user experience, efficient coding, and statistical modeling.
Our team members come from a wide variety of backgrounds and we’ve each chosen this career for different reasons. Some people like solving puzzles or working with new technologies while others prefer statistical analysis or developing new algorithms. From our perspective, we both like learning about different topics and discovering trends in data that others might not see.
Key Work Areas
Our work often involves a combination of advanced analytics techniques and technology tools. This could include:
- Extracting data
- Analyzing data
- Running tests and other experiments
- Developing automated reports
- Building backend algorithms
- Creating statistical models
- Providing insights and visualizations to stakeholders so they can better understand business needs and make informed decisions
In some companies, analysts spend a large portion of their time trying to extract data from complex data sources. Fortunately, Avvo has done a great job of providing us with the tools we need. As a result, we spend more time developing meaningful insights and less time wrestling with data pipeline issues.
In terms of our technology stack:
Data storage: We’re fortunate to have a robust data warehouse, but we also utilize Google’s BigQuery infrastructure. With these tools, we’re able to write SQL queries against months of data and have them run within a few seconds.
Traffic data: Google Analytics Premium provides us with a very granular understanding of how users are interacting with our different products. We’re able to write SQL queries against this data and quickly see what’s happening.
Testing and optimization: Like any other successful company, we’re always trying to improve our product. We use Optimizely and internal tools to conduct A/B tests and other experiments. Having a strong testing culture removes a lot of the guesswork from product development.
Python and our internal Analytics Platform: Although we write a fair bit of SQL, we use Python to do a lot of heavy lifting, whether pulling data or doing complex pivots. Most of our team didn’t have experience with Python prior to coming to Avvo, but it’s been easy to learn and a lot of fun (relevant xkcd). With our internal Analytics Platform and its integration into our data warehouse, we’re able to automate many tasks, run regressions, and develop models.
Visualization: Avvo, like most companies today, relies on fast, accessible data to make decisions. Many employees can self-serve much of this information directly from the database, but we use Tableau to provide frequently used visualizations and key metrics across the company.
Analysis: Processing data with Python and visualizing it with Tableau is great, but a major part of our work is looking at the data and providing actionable insights. We don’t do “elevator” reporting (where you simply state what went up and what went down). Instead, we seek to understand underlying patterns and themes. We develop and review hypotheses and partner with the product development teams to test them out.
We’re fortunate to be doing interesting work in a growing, dynamic company. If you’re interested in joining our team, check out our job listings and apply.