What I do all day is put everything in boxes. I am a compulsive organizer. (Yes I subscribe to Things Organized Neatly) My organized things are data and the boxes are systems. I'm trying to figure out the best way to put all the data into all of the systems, but at the end of the day I'm a tour guide. I help people find the data they want in the systems they can afford. Sometimes the boxes they want are too big, most of the time they don't have enough time or interest, or they find the whole matter too confusing and would rather just guess.
What's interesting is not the techniques and methodologies of building data systems and the attendant analysis. What's most interesting is understanding how it is that people come to understand the data they feel is most important to them. What do people want to know badly enough so that they'll pay me money to organize it for them? You're a sailor, what does a sailor want to know? You're a security guard at the front desk of an office tower, what do you want to know? You're the buyer for oak barrels in a distillery in Kentucky, what do you need to know to do your job better? You're a doctor for a major airline trying to figure out the rate of respiratory infections for flight crews. You're a car dealer that is thinking about fleet sales. These are all functions of running a business, or any operation that requires some stream of data that changes. A guy like me finds a way to turn a static pile of data consumed just once, into a reliable flow of information that informs your work over time.
It still comes down to counting things, figuring out percentages, risks, keeping track of assumptions, proving that numbers tie out in audits. It requires persistence, an obsession for perfection when people would rather be sloppy, a head for logic, and the ability to communicate what it all means. It means keeping track of a million moving parts and using compute & network tools to do so. It means being economical about which tools to use and why. It means listening patiently to people with half an idea. It also means never knowing enough because people are always unsatisfied.
It's a field that will always be around as long as somebody is building the machines, because people will always want to know something and we've pretty much figured out how to make them trust machines. TV paved the way. People will want to know then they'll change their minds and want to know something else. Human curiosity is not infinite, but it's pretty large.