Behind any successful company are the career-changing decisions that helped make them great. But have you ever wondered how those decisions are made?
The glitz and glamour of entrepreneurship has warped many public narratives about success. Some CEOs would like you to believe that their gut is the most important decision-making tool they have. The truth is that few big decisions get made at any company without good ol’ fashioned business intelligence.
What is business intelligence?
Business intelligence is the method by which data is collected, analyzed, and used to make informed business decisions.
While one might assume that business intelligence has been entirely automated, you might be surprised to learn that there are real people behind all business intelligence analysis. Who are these human computers calling the shots on a company’s biggest decisions? They’re called business intelligence analysts.
What is a business intelligence analyst?
Business intelligence analysts help company’s make sense of the massive amounts of data they have on hand. They review this data to help companies streamline processes, increase profits, and follow industry trends to keep themselves on the cutting edge.
What does a business intelligence analyst do?
The role of a business intelligence analyst will vary slightly depending on the industry. For the most part, anyone who works in business intelligence can expect the following four job duties to be part of their day-to-day work.
1. Data analysis
Once new customer data becomes available, it’s the job of the business intelligence team to manage it from start to finish. This includes reviewing and validating that the customer data is correct, deploying the new data to the appropriate data warehouse, and the analysis of new data.
The data analysis process also includes identifying ways that your company could use data more effectively and building new programs. Many companies employ the help of business intelligence software to automate the finer details. Streamlining the data analysis process can save your team time and money, which makes everyone's job a lot easier.
You’ve probably seen headlines in the news about another company suffering a massive data breach that exposed millions of users data and private information. This isn’t the sort of business faux-pas that you can apologize for any move on from. Companies are being fined millions of dollars for exposing customer data.
The role of a business intelligence analyst is just as much about protecting data as it is collecting and reviewing it. Educating your fellow employees on best practices for handling sensitive information and working closely with the IT department to protect user data are crucial elements of the role.
All the customer data in the world means nothing if you don’t know how to use it. Aside from just digging into the raw numbers, your role as a business intelligence analyst will include interpreting the results. Many C-suite executives count on the information given to them by their BI team to make huge company decisions. Even as an entry-level business analyst, the work you do day-to-day will have a huge impact on the company overall.
What skills do you need to become a business intelligence analyst?
We’ve already covered many of the hard skills you’ll need for a role in business intelligence, but there’s more to it than that. To climb the corporate ladder, you’ll need to be able to communicate your findings with management. That makes the role of a business intelligence analyst a delicate balance between research skills and communication skills.
What experience do you need to become a business intelligence analyst?
Most companies require their business intelligence analysts to have completed a four-year degree program with an emphasis in computer science, data science, business administration, engineering, or any other related field. Any degree that has a heavy focus on business processes and organizational operations will help you get your foot in the door.
Previous internship or work experience will help kick-start your career in business intelligence and from there you can hone your skills. Once you have a few years in the field you can consider getting a professional certification.
Microsoft’s Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) is considered one of the best certifications for BI career advancement. The coursework covers everything you’ll need to know about using SQLs to deliver better data-driven solutions, as well as how to implement data models and manage data warehousing.
There’s also the option to specialize with certification in specific coding languages. This is a good option for anyone looking to hyper-specialize for a specific field or industry.
Next steps for becoming a business intelligence analyst
If you’ve crunched the numbers and decided you want to become a BI analyst, congratulations! It’s a field that rewards hard work and challenges the mind. Now that you’ve found your path, you’re one step closer to a career in business intelligence.
Ready to start applying for business intelligence analyst jobs? Learn how to write a resume that communicates your skills.