Business intelligence analysts can occupy a variety of positions from junior staff to senior management. While every business analyst can expect to work up the chain of command, roles may vary depending on whether someone is working primarily with data systems (such as BI developers and architects) or interpreting this data to inform business strategy (such as BI managers and directors).
|Job Title||Description||Average Salary|
|Business Intelligence Manager||Business intelligence managers typically lead a team of BI analysts, driving data extraction, quality control, risk analysis, and other assessments to increase profitability. Because they design and maintain ongoing reports and metrics that influence optimization strategies, BI managers are able to translate raw data into workable insights for company decision makers.||$100,956|
|Business Intelligence Director||Business intelligence directors are responsible for the business intelligence and analytics process at a given company, leading teams of analysts, architects, developers, and managers in order to advocate for data-driven solutions at the top levels of company leadership. BI directors mentor junior staff, interface with executives and external clients, and design delivery systems to meet project requirements.||$127,360|
|Business Intelligence Architect||Business intelligence architects are gatekeepers of complex, multidimensional data warehouses. They usually manage a team of developers to determine how a given platform functions and how it can be improved to streamline the gathering of business intelligence. BI architects also input and build enterprise information and oversee the customization of particular applications.||$105,402|
|Business Intelligence Consultant||Business intelligence consultants are typically hired from consulting firms or are independent contractors who provide services for short- or long-term assignments. Performing similar functions to other business intelligence roles, consultants typically evaluate the efficiency of existing systems and educate staff about best practices to minimize operating costs and increase profits.||$84,407|
Types of Business Analysts
While a good catch-all term, “business intelligence analyst” doesn’t capture the wide range of positions that fall into the category of business intelligence and analytics. Some positions are more technical, requiring fluency in quantitative methods or software proficiency, whereas others require traditional business know-how. Responsibilities may vary depending on the industry, business domain, technology used, and project requirements.
Distinct from positions that evaluate market trends and strategies, management analysts tackle internal processes involving human resources, budgets, procedures, equipment, and facilities. Management analysts plan and coordinate projects to streamline diverse administrative and management operations. They may also conduct analytical studies and prepare reports, surveys, and manuals to ensure compliance with best practices. A typical business management analyst evaluates staff to ensure that the work performed matches the company’s internal logic and product delivery standards.
Healthcare business analysts are some of the most in-demand professionals in the business intelligence sphere, accounting for around 18% of job listings. They are typically well-educated in healthcare administration and are fluent in healthcare management systems. By compiling and analyzing data, healthcare analysts improve how health services are rendered at hospitals and other healthcare agencies. They may also monitor and analyze current trends in the healthcare industry to ensure the services provided are in-step with best practices.
Technical analysts are number crunchers and need to possess a solid understanding of finance as well as statistical and quantitative methods. Because of the expertise required, some states require certification to work as a qualified technical analyst. The typical BI analyst in this role engages in financial forecasting by analyzing fluctuations in the stock market. Technical analysts use information like interest rates, stock prices, and trading volume to determine when to sell stocks, and to assess and predict favorable market conditions for employers.
Functional analysts are subject matter experts, which commonly entails technical specialization in areas such as information technology or computer science (including software fluency), or specialization in particular industries. While the job requirements of functional analysts will vary, many analysts evaluate current technologies and research emerging technologies; design, maintain, and upgrade existing computer systems; and oversee product development to ensure it meets organizational requirements.
Being an agile business analyst means using business analysis in an agile environment, which usually refers to agile software environments where a project depends on collaborative decision making. Agile environments operate with values essential for cross-functional teams: innovation, leadership, empathy, business orientation, and anticipation. A company will typically seek agile business analysts when the project requirements evolve over time — requiring flexibility — and where interaction with end users influences how a product is designed.
Potential Industries for Business Intelligence Analysts
BI analysts can hone their skills in any industry that deals with large amounts of data, which includes both nonprofit and public sector organizations. But if profit is the primary motive, both small-scale and large, Fortune 500 companies require the unique blend of business acumen and technical skill deployed by BI analysts.
Healthcare business analysts compile and analyze medical data that helps healthcare managers make informed decisions about patient welfare, while also ensuring that health services are rendered in a cost-effective manner.
BI analysts in the public sector have the opportunity to manage enterprise information pertaining to large populations, and may work on projects that affect how public services are rendered at the local, state, and federal levels.
BI analysts in e-commerce operate in high-tech settings at some of the world’s most highly valued companies, routinely collaborating with managers, developers, and end users to ensure that existing systems are optimized for profitability and product delivery.
BI analysts who work in finance are both quantitative and technical specialists capable of analyzing stock market trends while also being familiar with front-end development and finance-specific technical architecture.
Edward J. Grebeck CEO at Tempus Advisors
Why is business analytics such an important topic in our modern society?
Since the development of Google and social media around 15 years ago, our society has moved into a 4th stage of growth and exponentially increasing productivity, globally. The Agricultural Revolution of the 1600s led to the Industrial Revolution of the 1700s which led to Information Technology Revolution, ie from computer hardware, to software, World Wide Web starting in the 1960s. Google brought us the Conceptual Revolution, and sophisticated search analytics, through “big data”, among other developments, to uncover patterns of behaviors, themes and history — across many different industries, countries, cultures and help us PRIORITIZE which problems to solve and opportunities to exploit in our business, going forward.
Today’s “Business Analytics”, is a big advance over “Risk-Management Analytics” which often twists available mathematical data to find some sort of solution to limit loss, which may or may not be appropriate to the market situation. Banks used risk-management analytics for years to protect them from losses … then came the credit crunch of 2008/09 … how did that work out for them ? In contrast, Business Analytics helps us construct the value-added QUESTIONS to ask and then resolve. Simply, compared to Business Analytics, risk management is so turn-of-the-century.
Why is business analytics an exciting and/or lucrative industry to join right now?
Business Analytics increases our work productivity a hundredfold. For example, imagine you and work colleague are discussing a debt financing done years ago. You say it was for $500 million, your colleagues says it was for $50 million. The answer will determine whether you take one course of action or its opposite. Before Google, you might never find the answer through web search. Or worse, you might have to research library publications ! This could take hours/days ! Now, in seconds you can end the dispute — “sources financing was for 500 million, done 2010”. Think of the value created by insightful, well researched, business analytics timely produced for clients. And with coming technological improvements, it can only get better. Time is money.
How will the course your school offers give students a leg up in their career?
I’m developing a course in Business Analytics, patterned after my a credit derivatives course I taught at NYU before and during the financial crisis; “CDS 101”. I canvassed several students and found existing credit derivatives courses focused on mathematical formulae designed to limit risk. Unfortunately, they never discussed history – how we got from banking in the 1980s – through today, where everyone trades all types of debt instruments and derivatives, everywhere in the world. I focused largely on history, enabled students to develop correct questions, i.e. “is the product priced correctly ?”, and helped them and their employers avoid the worst of the credit crunch losses.
In your opinion, will this industry grow as time goes on? Will there be a higher demand for business analysts?
Business Analytics will grow in modern financial institutions and will become more popular than risk-management analytics because it looks for opportunities in the broadest sense, in addition to looking to performance, to mitigate risk and prevent loss. Business Analytics uses historical data, but also contemporaneous data — e.g. where customers are located, with their income is, what comparable products/services they are attracted to — to identify what types of products/services the customer needs, to maximize business opportunities and returns to shareholders. Business Analytics focuses on Conceptual Thinking, rather than numerical data and quantitative relationships of the past.
What advice would you give to someone looking to begin their career in business analytics?
I would encourage students to get comfortable with basic statistics, advanced algebra – but most importantly – take lots of humanities courses — microeconomics, history, government/political science, literature; travel and live overseas if they can for a while — so that they have a “holistic” background — which will be ideal during today’s Conceptual Revolution”. Become familiar with other countries and cultures because your best opportunities may come overseas (e.g. whether American going to China, or Chinese coming to America) in the Conceptual Revolution.
While there are many different pathways to becoming a BI analyst, the responsibilities entailed therein can be quite rigorous in terms of the knowledge and skills required, particularly if the position is more technically oriented. Many employers will require an accredited degree program that equips students with a business mindset and prepares them for building and analyzing large volumes of information. Having a degree is therefore the best option for becoming a licensed, experienced BI analyst.
What Degree is Needed to Become a BI Analyst?
Generally speaking, employers expect incoming BI analysts to possess at least a bachelor’s degree in business intelligence, computer science, or business administration with a focus on data science and computer information technology. Higher-level positions may call for graduate degrees such as a Master of Business Administration or a Master of Science degree in specialized fields like finance or computer science. This is because degree programs related to business intelligence and analytics are known to equip students with programming skills for building and maintaining databases, statistical skills for analyzing trends, and communications skills for presenting complex information to diverse stakeholders.
It should be noted that, particularly for later-stage career development, a degree without specific technology- or industry-specific skills and certifications may not be enough to satisfy all job requirements. To become a healthcare analyst, for example, several years of experience in healthcare administration may be necessary. Similarly, job advertisements for financial or technical analysts may require certification or a strong familiarity with finance-specific software applications, and agile business analysts may be expected to have stronger programming skills since they work routinely with teams of software developers and managers.
Internships for Business Analysts
Internships are fixed-period assignments, either paid or unpaid, that are intended to train students and recent graduates in the same skills they would otherwise use as full-time employees. Interns usually work for three to six months at a company to gain valuable exposure to the responsibilities and expectations common to their industry of choice, and may or may not gain full-time employment at the conclusion of their internship.
In the case of prospective business intelligence analysts, internships are a valuable tool not only for gaining potential college credit, but for the hands-on experience not attainable from a traditional degree program. Business intelligence interns can expect to work at multiple levels, including research and analysis, collecting and interpreting data, and learning the ropes of basic business management. Common duties might include helping to draft reports, analyzing business requirements, preparing research presentations, and assisting with miscellaneous administrative tasks.