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How to Become a Business Intelligence Analyst in the US

Business intelligence analysis is an amalgamation of two skill sets. It allows people who have an interest in business to apply their analytical skills and knowledge of information technology to draw conclusions that are meant to optimize the efficiency of the organization.

What Does a Business Intelligence Analyst Do?

Business intelligence analysts basically familiarize themselves with the information available on all aspects of their client’s business, notably, its systems, procedures, personnel and functions. They then analyze the information and offer workable information technology solutions for growth, sustainability and competitive edge. Their specific duties are to:

  • Meeting with clients to determine their specific concerns
  • Read through the organization’s records and any other information that is available about its operations
  • Conduct their own data mining activities such as employee interviews, focus groups and direct observation to get a clear picture about every aspect of the business operations
  • Analyze the information they collect using analytical methods and software applications to determine current and potential problem areas
  • The analyst then makes a presentation to the organizational management complete with recommendations on ways in which the business can improve on its efficiency
  • Oversee, track and report back on the implementation of change initiatives
  • Develop new analytical and reporting tools, models and techniques

Qualifications

An academic degree is a pre-requisite for this job. A Bachelor’s degree in information systems, information science, business administration, economics, human resources management or other degree touching on business processes will equip you with foundational knowledge about organizational operations.

You can also transition from any other professional career, provided you undergo a business intelligence analysis training course at the end of which you receive certification. The course covers topics such as:

  • Introduction to business intelligence
  • Data mining and warehousing
  • Statistical analysis
  • Multi-dimensional business modeling and analysis

Other necessary qualifications include:

  • Expert Knowledge of software applications, database management and information technology solutions.
  • Excellent SQL and other database query languages are essential for this job.
  • Working knowledge of business concepts, principles and systems
  • Basic knowledge in strategy and change management
  • Bit Data is now a huge part of this job as it is becoming part of nearly any business.

Skills

To be a successful business intelligence analyst, you need:

  • Excellent research, data mining and analytical skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills
  • Critical thinking and creative-problem solving skills
  • Be observant, insightful and intellectually curious
  • Adaptability and the ability to think on your feet
  • Ability to integrate multi-disciplinary knowledge
  • Equally skilled in working with people as with technology
  • Ability to synthesize large volumes of data in a short period of time

Salary

Business intelligence analysts are paid according to their level of experience, reputation for delivering positive outcomes and whether they are working as employees or independent consultants. The average per annum salary range is:

Entry Level 

$85,819

Mid Career

$104,774

Successful

$129,721

Source: Salary.com

Work Environment

In view of the dual nature of business intelligence analysis, professionals in this career have a dynamic work environment. They spend most of their time in their own offices and those of their clients immersed in information technology and business to find ways in which the two can be exploited to optimize the organization’s output. The work involves a lot of research and multi-disciplinary learning. Analysts spend as much time with people as they do computers. They meet with clients, conduct information-gathering interviews and obtain feedback. The job also requires analysts to always be on the move, travelling to their client’s premises, engaging in continuous professional development and staying updated on all the latest developments in both worlds. Their work hours depend on whether they have a project or not, if they do, they may operate for long and irregular hours.

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Career Prospects

Business intelligence analysts are required in virtually every field, as organizations seek the best ways to refocus their strategies to maintain or gain a competitive advantage in this revolutionary new business environment. Changes in technology, labor markets and business processes are forcing businesses to get creative in order to achieve their efficiency, profitability, growth and sustainability objectives. Business intelligence analysts are the interface between organizational management and information technology. As a result, they are projected to have above average career growth opportunities. However, there is also stiff competition in the profession. Thus, if you wish to join it, you will need to distinguish yourself by taking every opportunity to enhance your experience and also obtain an advanced degree in the industry in which you wish to specialize in.

If you are extremely proficient in information technology but also have an abiding interest in business and stay updated on all the latest developments in both sectors, you are in luck. A career in business intelligence analysis allows you to combine the two skill sets, to deliver solutions that can change the outlook and performance of a business.

 

Image: iStock

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