Will AI Replace Data Analysts?

With AI like ChatGPT becoming more popular and powerful every day, and lots of tools being built on top of it, people are starting to wonder which jobs AI will replace. With AI being able to write code, apply analytics concepts, and access knowledge across many industries, Data analysis seems like a promising use case, so will Data Analysts be replaced by AI?

connecting snowflake to chatgpt
is AI taking over?

Being a Data Analyst requires a variety of skills and knowledge, which depends on the specific role and company. Many companies rely on several tools that are not currently able to integrate with AI, and switching to other tools could take a lot of time and effort. Many other companies, however, use technology that can already integrate with AI. Since it depends on the company, the technology, and other factors like data privacy, let's first take a look at what AI is already capable of doing well.

  • Data Manipulation & Extraction. AI is already able to generate code in languages like SQL, Python, and R. It can also integrate with certain tools like Microsoft Excel or Google sheets.
  • Data Visualization. Using libraries in Python and R, or tools built into software like Excel or BlazeSQL, AI can create highly insightful graphs based on data.
  • Industry knowledge. Successful Data Analysis requires some knowledge of the industry the data is from, and AI has deep knowledge across many industries. It is even able to pass the BAR (law) exam, and several medical exams.

As you can see, even within less than a year of ChatGPT being released, AI tools can already perform some of the key tasks for which data analysts are responsible. However, There are still various tasks that are important to the job, which an AI would currently struggle with:

  • Presentation skills. While AI can generate reports, and present results in text form, meetings are still a key part of company operations. While it is technologically possible, there are currently no complete solutions that can replace a Data analyst presenting results in discussions during company meetings.
  • Data cleaning. In the real world, data used for analysis needs to be cleaned and aggregated first. Being to gather data from various sources and stakeholders, and talk to stakeholders to understand the data and its issues before cleaning it, is something that current AI solutions would not be able to do without some help.
  • Using existing & older software. Many companies depend on existing, and often older systems for data storage and processing. There are many such scenarios in which current AI simply would not be able to learn about and interact with the system in the same way as a human.

How can Data Analysts prepare for the impact of AI?

While data analysts may not be completely replaced by AI any time soon, data analysts who use AI will replace the Data analysts who don't use it. This is because by letting AI help with certain parts of their jobs (like writing code, getting industry-specific knowledge, and creating graphs), they can work much faster. This enables a few Data Analysts working with AI to do work that previously required a large team.

“AI Won't Replace Humans — But Humans With AI Will Replace Humans Without AI.”

HBR – Harvard Business Review

The best thing you can do to prepare for the impact of AI, is to use it. Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of AI and how it can be applied to your work.

5 useful AI tools for Data Analysts

We've established that using AI tools for your Data analysis work is important... but how can you get started? Check out these 5 tools: