In business, you are constantly surrounded by data. Every day your company generates mountains of information on your customers, on your competitors and even on your own employees. Being able to interpret that data and use it to see the big picture can help you make better decisions and to accurately chart a course for your business.

Business owners and entrepreneurs are often told to trust their guts and their instincts, but with proper research you won’t have to rely on hunches to make big decisions for your company. That’s where a data analyst can make a huge impact on your business, mining through your mountains of data to uncover the gold within.

So what is a data analyst, and why does your business need one? A data analyst (or data miner) is a professional who can obtain, clean, explore and interpret raw data to determine trends or best options. While data analysis might seem like something better left to huge companies like Amazon or Facebook, you may be missing some important opportunities within your own business. Here a few ways that dedicated data analysis can benefit your business.

Talent Recruitment

There is a tremendous volume of human capital data available for businesses looking to hire new talent. Whether through social media or posting resumes to job searching sites or corporate databases, potential employees have offered up an incredible amount of data for recruiters that know how to look for it. Ultimately, data analysis is gathering and analyzing data to make an informed decision.

Your company’s recruiters and talent sourcers should be able to leverage this wealth of data to turn human capital data into strong employment candidates. SourceCon shows that identifying human capital is the most important step in acquiring new talent, since it lets you know which candidates you should engage in the first place. Having a highly specialized analyst to find potential candidates can go a long way to ensuring you make the correct hire every time.

Identifying Your Core Audience

It is not uncommon for a business to try to sell to everyone and miss countless targeted opportunities in the process. Gathering analytics on your customers, website visitors and social media followers is one of the best ways to find a healthy direction for your company. Your website probably has Google Analytics showing your traffic, but do you know how to use that data? Can you compile and analyze customer surveys, sales records or the use of a company loyalty program? These are all gold mines of customer information that may be going to waste.

Test Changes

Data analysis allows you to arrange A/B (or If This, Then…) testing for changes to your business or your website. Carelogger, a web app startup, was able to improve its website’s conversion rates by 72 percent by making three experimental changes with two variables on the site and tracking which performed better. It is easy to implement changes or new features, but without dedicated analysis, there is no way to know if you are throwing good money after bad.

Targeted Customer Experiences

You’ve more than likely seen’s “Customers who have purchased this, often purchase…” messages, and they are born of extremely accurate data analysis. While your company probably doesn’t operate on that level, you can determine which items are often purchased together, which customers are buying those products and how often they are purchased. Such information can help you arrange your shelves (real or digital) to increase customer satisfaction, or to help push similar products.

Dedicated data analysts are in high demand, and for good reason. With so much information available to businesses, companies without a data analyst are at an increasing competitive disadvantage.  If you’re looking for a talented analyst, look to staffing companies or recruiters who focus on technology, like Kforce who has a continually updated board of data analyst jobs around the country. You’ll get the ease of someone doing the work and get a more qualified pool of applicants to choose from.