Princess Leia: At least the information in R2 is still intact.
Han Solo: What’s so important? What’s he carrying?
Princess Leia: The technical readouts of that battle station. I only hope that when the data’s analyzed a weakness can be found. It’s not over yet.
Data roles might not take you to a galaxy far, far away, but depending on your specialization, they can demand some of the same skills as your favorite space-opera heroes.
In honor of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, here’s a breakdown of types of data analyst – or rather, the difference between a business analyst, a data engineer, a data and analytics manager, a data analyst, a data architect and a data scientist – told through iconic characters from Star Wars.
Luke Skywalker = Business Analyst
“I’m Luke Skywalker and I’m here to rescue you!”
The hero of the franchise, Luke Skywalker might have a strong, innate sense of how the Force works, but he’s much more interested in how this plays out in real-life situations. He’s constantly trying to figure out how to stay on the right track and use his powers in the right way without letting his perspective get twisted… a surefire way to end up slipping into the dark side.
Like a business analyst constantly looking to link data insights to real-life business decisions, Luke is interested in how it all works – but it’s not the technical stuff that makes his heart sing. Rather, it’s seeing how it fits into the bigger picture and help his team power on towards its ultimate goal.
That’s why, just as business analysts often end up as a bridge between the serious, deep-level techie types and the business-minded types, Luke often finds himself torn between the philosophical Jedis and the more practical-minded outlook of his sister, Princess Leia.
Han Solo = Data Engineer
“It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs. I’ve outrun Imperial starships. Not the local bulk cruisers, mind you. I’m talking about the big Corellian ships, now. She’s fast enough for you, old man.”
Dry-witted Han Solo might be a boaster, but he knows his stuff. When it comes to the technical side of things, he’s poked around with every solution to figure out its strengths and weaknesses, and years of experience have taught him how to survive. As a smuggler, he’s used to moving things from one place to another and keeping them intact – and he’s had to be creative with it, too.
Like a data engineer, this guy’s a jack-of-all-trades that can dip into all kinds of systems and get them working the way he needs. For your typical data engineer, that means statistical programming, databases and web development languages rather than bulk cruises and Imperial starships… but both roles are about testing, tinkering, and refining until you have something you can really show off.
Princess Leia = Data and Analytics Manager
“We have no time for sorrows, Commander. You must use the information in this R-2 unit to help plan the attack. It’s our only hope.”
Luke Skywalker’s royal sister goes a step further: the Force might be strong in her, but she’s not interested in developing any ethereal powers. Instead, she has a rebel army to organize, and a war to win… and for that, she needs to call on and direct a team of people with all skill sets, including engineers, analysts, and even a robot built to store, transport and deliver data safely.
Just like a top data and analytics manager, she sets the priorities and gets her team to work cohesively. She’s a fierce, strong-willed, driven figure with a clear objective in mind, who knows how to keep even the most difficult team members pulling in the right direction.
C-3PO = Data Analyst
“Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately three thousand seven hundred and twenty to one!”
Humanoid robot C-3PO might drive everyone nuts by constantly pointing out the odds of survival, but you can’t fault his ability to process vast pools of data and scan for crucial insights pertinent to the task at hand.
Like a data analyst switching seamlessly between R, SQL, Python and C, C-3PO speaks thousands of languages fluently and is tasked with translating information that’s incomprehensible to the rest of the team into something they can understand. He might not lean towards the big-picture strategy side, but he’s constantly asking questions and interrogating the data in front of his eyes. Much like an eagle-eyed analyst, he sticks to the numbers – and nothing gets past him.
R2-D2 = Data Architect
“Beep Beep Boop Beep.”
Little R2D2’s great mission is to store, protect and maintain data sources so that the information can be safely delivered to the people that can use it. He literally centralizes and organizes data in his internal computer… making him the perfect metaphor for the role of a data architect, who uses technologies like Spark and Hive to develop blueprints and systems for data management across the organization.
Like a data architect, R2D2 doesn’t need to worry about the questions he should be asking of the data – that’s his best friend C-3PO’s role. He’s purely concerned with mastering the perfect technical solution to ensure that others can use the system to share, query, and collaborate on the data he prepares to get the result they need.
Yoda = Data Scientist
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
Yoda is the great, revered master. The one who together brings all the skillsets. Sorry – I mean, brings all the skill sets together. Every aspiring Jedi in the galaxy looks to him for training, wisdom, and guidance, but he can also see the bigger picture: how he and his students must harness the skills they’ve learned and direct their energies to move forward towards their goal.
Like a data scientist that can move between handling raw data, to applying statistical techniques to analyze it, to packaging up the insights in meaningful ways for actionable insights, Yoda is something of a wizard.
He can filter through all the information he’s given with perfect clarity, and he shows others the questions they should be asking to uncover the insights they really need. He’s also a compelling storyteller that has everyone eating out of the palm of his hand… so it’s no wonder he’s in demand throughout his universe.