In a Big Data environment, where businesses are harnessing the volume of information being produced to improve insights and results, there’s a growing need for professionals who can make sense of it all to enable informed decisions. Business Intelligence (BI) analysts, professionals who are specifically trained and educated to tackle these new big data challenges, are a subset of a profession – management analysts – that is expected to grow by 14% through 2024, outpacing the national average for all other occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In the BI field, analysts are necessary to sculpt the organization’s data into a business weapon. Their work provides a clear view of business operations, identifying trends that can result in improvements in everything from sales and marketing strategies to supply chain issues to customer outreach.
These professionals utilize BI analysis tools to collect information from data repositories and generate reports for managers and executives to use when creating strategies and making decisions. The data, stored in business-wide data warehouses and sometimes in business department databases, can cross into multiple areas like inventory, customers and sales.
Specifically, business intelligence analysts:
Analysts should employ a systematic and methodical orientation. Without one, it can be difficult to navigate through and make sense of the mountain of data that businesses increasingly generate. They can also benefit from strong problem solving skills and should be able to weigh the pros and cons of different issues to recommend an optimal course of action. Finally, BI analysts can benefit from good interpersonal and communications skills to work effectively with managers and other employees, whether through face-to-face interactions or written communications.
This position is not the kind of position that is commonly outsourced.
The BLS does not break out salaries for this specific position, but it does report an annual median salary for management analysts of $81,320 in 2015. In cases like this, personal research in your local market for the most accurate, up-to-date and complete information should be done, as salary can vary depending on location, education, experience and other factors.
Typically, BI analysts have earned an MBA or similar degree, and sometimes they are certified public accountants. Among the courses of study that are helpful are business, management, accounting, marketing, economics, statistics, computer and information science, and engineering.
Many companies hire BI analysts from within the company, given the need to have a solid grasp of the organization, its business and competitive set, its operations and goals. BI Analysts will typically come to the job with experience in database and data analysis technology, and often with enterprise applications and project management experience.