When it comes to running a business, it takes a great deal of data analysis and interpretation to help make major business decisions in finance, staffing, production, technology, and operations. A successful business relies heavily on professionals trained in collecting and studying data to produce reports, public information summaries, and other documentation to support business leaders in making decisions to help businesses grow, remain competitive, and improve systems and processes.
Combining technological savvy with analytical and problem-solving skills and data visualization techniques, a business intelligence analyst plays an important role in business planning, systems upgrades or updates, investment practices, and setting and meeting organizational goals.
We’ll take a closer look at precisely what a business intelligence analyst does, how to become one, what one might expect to earn in this position, and the outlook for this career choice.
What is a Business Intelligence Analyst?
Data analysis. Data interpretation. Data modeling. Data visualization. Data communications.
You might be familiar with all or some of these terms, but they all apply to the practices undertaken by a business intelligence analyst. In this role, professionals use evaluation skills, data gathering techniques, database management practices, resource management processes, and written and oral communication abilities to study specific data and generate reports to identify patterns and trends that will influence decisions in various areas of business operations.
What are trends in a specific industry market might influence how a company produces goods? What are financial outlooks for investments that could impact a business’s growth? What are systems within an organization need upgrades to determine better production costs, product demand, or staffing requirements? How can a company’s data mining, modeling, and warehousing systems be upgraded to provide the best efficacy and efficiency?
These are the questions that business intelligence analysts can help business leaders answer. These leaders strive to decide whether a company expands or decreases production, creates new jobs, recognizes new market trends, or develops strategies for increasing profits.
Business intelligence analysts use their databases and data analytics software to gather and interpret information to generate market reports, financial reports, and systems analysis reports. Business intelligence analysts can recommend strategies and actions to improve organizational processes, increase profits, adjust to market trends, and expand business functions through these analyses.
These analysts are adept at summarizing their findings and communicating analyses and recommendations through written reports to executives, company stakeholders, departmental managers, and other business leaders.
How to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst
Suppose you desire to become a business intelligence analyst. In that case, you will, at a minimum, need to earn a bachelor’s degree, most typically in business administration. However, you might also pursue a degree in computer science, statistics, computer information systems, or data analysis. Some employers might prefer candidates for this position to hold a master’s degree.
In cases where experience is desired, some companies might accept a master’s degree instead of professional experience. A master of business administration (MBA) in business intelligence would ordinarily be pursued, though advanced degrees in business analytics, data science, or those already listed for bachelor’s degrees.
Coursework that aspiring business intelligence analysts would likely take includes computer science, accounting, statistics, economics, project management, database administration, and information science.
To fulfill any experience requirements, it would be helpful to have worked in a business setting and possibly have filled a management role. Experience in IT is most relevant. Some prospective business intelligence analysts might be certified, public accountants.
Career Pathways for Business Intelligence Analysts
Becoming a business intelligence analyst is a progressive journey that might start with an internship or junior position as a business analyst or data analyst. Obtaining specific professional certifications reflecting skills in business intelligence software tools can be helpful to advance in the field.
The Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP) credential from Transforming Data With Intelligence (TWDI), which provides education and training for data professionals, also shows mastery of applications, tools, and best practices in the field and reflects developed skills in decision-making, data analysis, and strategic planning. The CBIP credential could be helpful for promotions and salary increases in this profession.
Other certifications that could help start or advance a career as a business intelligence analyst include:
- Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)
- PMI Professional in Business Analytics (PBA)
- IIBA Certification in Business Data Analytics (CBDA)
- IIBA Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
- IIBA Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA)
You might fill other managerial roles within an organization as you advance toward becoming a business intelligence analyst. Some individuals work in supervisory positions for a few years or assume the responsibilities of project managers, database managers, or IT managers before reaching their ultimate career goal.
Advancing to a business intelligence analyst is typical within one organization. Many companies prefer hiring for this role from within as the individual understands the organization’s structure, business practices, systems, and goals.
Sample Business Intelligence Analyst Job Descriptions
What might a company list as desired skills, experience, and job responsibilities in job ads or posts for business intelligence analysts?
Job responsibilities might include language such as:
- Develop data and reporting documentation
- Build data visualizations
- Document data collection processes
- Communicate project plans and statuses
- Apply data analysis methods to assist in strategic and operational planning
- Assess analytics tools for usability and efficiency
- Propose analytical solutions for business decision-making processes
- Present data to executives to assist in providing insight into the development of organizational strategies
- Contribute to the development of sales presentations, market analysis reports, marketing and promotions materials, and product specifications
Following are examples of job descriptions for business intelligence analysts:
- Displaying skills in data analysis and programming, business intelligence analysts apply their interpretation of collected data to help businesses understand trends, solve business problems, and measure performance. They use their gathered data to assess company needs and create reports and visual presentations to assist corporate decision-makers in evaluating possible areas of improvement, expansion, or upgrades. Business intelligence analysts work across various industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, technology, finance, and engineering.
- Business intelligence analysts assemble and evaluate market, customer, and sales data for validation and accuracy and apply their evaluations to writing reports used by executives in business decision-making processes. They oversee data warehousing procedures, document data collection and analysis procedures, implement big data software and hardware upgrades, and monitor business metrics. These analysts consistently display strong assessment, communications, analytical, and problem-solving skills.
- Drawing on their understanding of quality assurance, product strategies, and data software applications, business intelligence analysts collaborate with various corporate departments to collect and evaluate sales, customer behavior, quality control, product development, and company systems and procedures. This is so they can assist in improvement within various areas of business for potential growth purposes. In this role, these professionals also standardize data collection processes, extract data from data warehouses to generate reports and other documents, use data visualization technologies to produce presentations, and improve business solutions strategies.
- Armed with a strong understanding of data technology, business intelligence analysts collect, evaluate, and summarize data analyses to provide business leaders with the knowledge they need to develop solutions in various areas of business operations. Business intelligence analysts might, for example, evaluate financial data to assist companies in making investment and cash flow decisions or present sales and market analyses to support decision-making processes relating to product development, marketing strategies, and production operations. They design data collection, reporting, data warehousing, and data mining procedures. These analysts use their analyses to help companies assess risks, identify industry trends, and evaluate the competition. As part of their responsibilities, business intelligence analysts might use market surveys to determine consumer behavior to help senior managers make decisions regarding production, marketing, and promotions.
Salary Info and Career Outlook
According to most recent statistics from PayScale.com, business intelligence analysts earn an average annual base salary of $69,635; bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing could drive this salary up several thousand dollars per year in some cases.
The career outlook for all management analysts is faster than average when compared to all other occupations. An 11 percent job growth rate is projected over the 2019-2029 decade, as reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
High demand for management analysts in information technology, which would include business intelligence analysts, is expected over the same period. Just over 87,000 job openings are expected each year; opportunities are believed to be best for those with certifications, special expertise, and skills in sales and public relations.