7 Skills Needed to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst
What is the need of the hour for businesses these days? You guessed it right, it’s business intelligence! BI is one of the fundamental components for businesses if they want to remain profitable and increase their brand awareness well beyond their competitors. After all, business is essentially a competition where business intelligence can provide an edge to companies. Keeping this in mind, jobs like Business Intelligence Analyst are soaring in popularity! That’s where you come in! You can take advantage of this rising popularity of Business Intelligence to bag a BI Analyst job that will teach you a lot and take your career to new heights. But what skills are needed to become a Business Intelligence Analyst?
Well, you need to have a diverse range of business, statistical, and analytical skills to become a Business Intelligence Analyst. You should be well versed in the technical aspects such as data analytics and visualization while also have a knowledge of the business model and KPI’s. So let’s see the world of business intelligence and understand what skills you need to cultivate in detail.
What is Business Intelligence?
Business Intelligence is a business-oriented aspect of data analytics wherein the data acquired by the business is converted into actionable insights so that the business can become more profitable. Business Intelligence can have many facets including analyzing different types of data that is generated by the business and then present the insights gained from the data to decision-makers in the business using presentations, reports, summaries, dashboards, graphs, etc. Data visualization also plays an important role in business intelligence, wherein different graphs and charts can be used to graphically present the data insights.
In other words, Business Intelligence does not directly tell the decision-makers in a company what the roadmap for the company should be and what decisions they should take but it does provide a well-informed point of view based on the data that can be used to make informed decisions. For example, let’s assume a global car business wants to analyze the sales of their cars in each country and understand which models perform better. They can use Business Intelligence to collect data about all the car models they have such as their worldwide sales, popularity levels among customers, feedbacks for improvement, etc. By analyzing this data, the business can understand which models are more popular in each country and how to make improvements to increase their profit.
Now that you know what Business Intelligence is, let’s see how you can go about making a career in it!
What are the Career Opportunities in Business Intelligence?
Business Intelligence is a very popular field, and career opportunities are just expanding these days! One advantage of having a career in Business Intelligence is that there is a lot of variety in this role. You can choose to become a BI Analyst in almost any job sector like health, automobile, entertainment, etc. as all these sectors need business intelligence to enhance their business practices and stay ahead of their competitors. Another big advantage in Business Intelligence is that it is not a fixed job description and you could alter this job according to what you like! You could take on a purely technical role where your main focus is on programming and just obtaining insights from the data or you could take on a more human-oriented role where you need good communication skills to explain the data insights to non-technical decision-makers in the business. Whatever you decide to do, there are a lot of career opportunities in Business Intelligence, so much so that you’ll be spoilt for choice!
What are the Skills needed for becoming a BI Analyst?
There are many skills that should be in the arsenal of a BI Analyst. Some of these are given below:
1. Data preparation
Data preparation is a very important part of Business Intelligence. To obtain any insights from the data, first, the data needs to be collected, cleaned, and organized in a uniform manner. There are many data preparation tools that can collect data from various sources and then prepare this data with the same dimensions and measurements. And as a BI Analyst, you should be familiar with at least some of these data preparation tools like Tableau Prep, Improvado. Alteryx, etc.
2. Data mining
Data mining is the process of finding patterns in the data that were previously not visible. This converts the raw data into useful information that can be used for decision-making. The knowledge of data mining requires an understanding of various technologies like machine learning, databases, statistical analysis, computer science algorithms, etc. Some of the tools that are very helpful in data mining include the Rapid Miner, Oracle data mining, Konstanz Information Miner, etc.
3. Statistical analysis
Knowledge of statistics is a big part of becoming a Business Intelligence Analyst. You should have knowledge of various statistical components like mean, median, range, variance, etc. can be used to get a more detailed view of the data. And these are just the basics! Other advanced statistical topics like combinatorics, set theory, probability, discrete and continuous and bivariate distributions, random variables, etc. are also important. There are many analytical tools that can help businesses to understand their metrics better in order to create a sound BI strategy. These include SAS, Hadoop, Spark, Hive, Pig, etc.
4. Descriptive analysis
Description analysis involves researching the data to understand if there are any missing values, outliers, abnormal or skewed distributions, etc. In essence, it is a part of understanding and getting to know the data before presenting the data to decision-makers in a clean form. There are many tools that can be used for descriptive analytics such as the statistical methods described above or data visualization charts that are used to study the data such as histograms, bar charts, box and whisker plots, etc.
5. Data visualization
As a BI analyst, a critical part of your job is not just to obtain the patterns in the data but to visualize the data in such a manner that these patterns are clearly visible. So data visualization skills are a big part of becoming a Business Intelligence Analyst. You should have knowledge about various charts that can be used to visualize the data such as Area Charts, Bar Charts, Heat Maps, TreeMaps, Scatter Plots, Gantt Charts, etc. All these charts allow decision-makers to understand the data in more depth by visualizing it and understanding the slowly changing trends or the places where critical changes suddenly occur.
6. Business Knowledge
As a Business Intelligence Analyst, you should have sound business knowledge as well. You should be well acquainted with the business model of the company you are working for and understand how to leverage the data in order to obtain the maximum profit for the business based on the key performance indicators. You should understand both the short term and long term business goals of the company so that you can help in charting the future path with the help of data.
7. Data Reporting
Data Report skills or Communication skills are soft skills that are absolutely essential to your job as a business intelligence analyst. You should have the speaking skills to report the insights obtained from the data to higher-ups in the business such as the stakeholders and board members so that they can make the necessary decisions for the business. Also, it is important to remember that most of the decision-makers might be from a technical background so it’s important to use layman language to explain technical concepts so that they are easily understandable.
Now that you have a glimpse of the business intelligence world, you can cultivate these skills to obtain your dream job in BI. If you are still a student, then it is relatively easy as you can major in information systems or business analytics. If you are already in the industry, then you can gain experience with an internship and then get your dream job in business intelligence.