A Guide to a Career in Business Analytics
What does it mean when someone says they work in business analytics? A simple way to define the field of business analytics is that it is the process of collecting, storing, and analyzing data to help a business improve its efficiency and increase its revenue. If an organization uses a data-driven approach in its decision-making process, then analytics plays a major role in their approach to decision making. People with careers in business analytics are called business analysts.
Companies have been gathering and storing data for decades, but over the past few years, the amount of data collected has increased significantly and a huge chunk of this data is unstructured. That is why business analytics as a career has taken off and many people are able to find gainful employment. According to MarTech, the digital universe has 2.7 Zettabytes of data, and if most of it is unstructured, analyzing it all will require a lot of data analysts. No wonder spending on big data projects (business analytics projects being among them) in 2018 is expected to reach $114 billion. This means there are a lot of career opportunities in business analytics now more than ever.
If aiding an organization’s decision-making process using a data-driven approach is something that you would like to do, then business analytics is for you. As a business analyst, you will be making an average salary of $70,170 per year, according to Glassdoor, so keep on reading for a guide into the world of business analytics.
Business analytics skills required
Now that you have an idea of what business analytics is, you might be wondering if you have the skills to become a business analyst. If you want to make it in the field, you will need to have the core skills that all business analysts have in order to be able to tackle specific business analytics jobs in various organizations. If you don’t have these yet, consider going back to school and obtaining a master's degree in business analytics.
Being a strong communicator is a must for all business analysts as the success of the project will depend on it. Since you will spend a great deal of your time communicating with your team (fellow data analysts and developers), clients and management, this skill is highly valuable. The biggest challenge you will face with communication is that you won’t always communicate with these people face-to-face. Most interactions will take place in a virtual setting, so knowing how to conduct meetings, discuss and absorb what others are saying and share ideas in this setting is important.
As a business analyst, you will be working on a variety of business analytics projects that are very critical to the organization's business processes. As such, you need to have the ability to manage projects, from planning to implementation to monitoring their progress. You need to be able to manage the resources you have well to complete the project, such as money and personnel, making sure that the project suffers no delays, everyone is on task and the organization doesn’t overspend.
Technical skills are important as well since a business analyst needs to know the business inside out as well as the information technology used or needs to be used. This is because a business analyst must provide solutions to the organization's data problems. As a business analyst, you should also be able to design, develop, and implement business systems that aid organizations in gathering and storing the data. Doing all this while also instilling confidence in your team, management, and clients requires the appropriate technical skills.
Since careers in business analytics involve coming up with workable business solutions, it is no surprise that this skill is on the list. In the real world, it would be unrealistic to expect a project to go smoothly without any problems. No matter how much planning we put into the project, we can’t predict everything that can go wrong because the business world is one filled with constant and frequent changes. So you must be a good problem solver who can come up with quick solutions to keep the project going and ensure its success.
When coming up with solutions to an organization’s data problems that can make it more efficient and profitable, you need analytical skills to understand its business processes so that you can come up with the necessary solutions to achieve this goal. This skill is the one that will perhaps be the most useful skill in a number of business analytics careers. Your ability to analyze the problem at the business level, software level and information level using your analytical skills will make sure you come up with solutions that truly work. The top three analytical skills you need to succeed in business are use cases for functional requirements, wireframes for visual requirements and data models for data requirements.
An ability to make sound decisions after assessing the problem and listening to all stakeholders involved is vital for a business analyst. When you work in this field, you will normally play the role of liaison between developers and the organization's management, and that is why you need this skill so you can make decisions quickly and communicate them to and fro. This means you must exhibit strong judgment when it comes to a variety of scenarios that can affect the organization at all levels.
Critical thinking skills
Before you settle on a single solution, you will have to look at multiple solutions and filter out the good from the bad. This requires some critical thinking skills that will enable you to look at the problem from different angles and factor in the views of all stakeholders and ask questions to uncover and understand the problem. Not only will this allow you to propose a solution to the team, it will also allow you to propose one that will produce some measurable results.
Business analysts are not only liaisons between management and developers, but the organization and its clients as well. They need to be able to communicate with both sides to find out what each side needs and wants so that expectations can be met across the board; this requires strong negotiation skills. One scenario where these skills come in handy is when the organization is trying to get new clients, especially when there is heavy competition involved. Only a business analyst with strong negotiation skills can come in and convince the client that the organization can come up with the right solution to their problem.
Degree paths to become a business analyst
It is quite possible to enter the field of business analytics without having a single degree to your name. If you can learn the necessary skills and do the job well, you can get hired. You can even pursue your first degree while working for the sake of career advancement if that is one of your goals. But when it comes to a majority of employers, a degree is highly preferable if you work for them as a business analyst.
If you want to go the degree route, you can get into the field of business analytics with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. A typical business administration curriculum is enough to instill you with the necessary skills to become a business analyst, such as business, communication and problem-solving skills. Some school curriculums even allow you to specialise in fields that can make you more attractive to employers looking for business analysts, such as marketing.
Other than business administration, the following bachelor’s degrees will also help you get a job as a business analyst:
- Business Analytics
- Computer Science
- Information Systems
- Data Science
- Information Management
- Health Informatics and Analytics
- Quantitative Management
- Discovery Informatics
- Cyber Security
- Applied Analytics
- Business Intelligence
- Marketing Analytics
While a bachelor’s degree is enough, a master’s degree in the same majors can make you even more attractive to potential employers. This shows that you are dedicated to helping businesses succeed. You will also be able to expand your horizons as this will open you up to opportunities for career advancement, such as getting managerial positions, such as Manager of Services or Project Manager, that pay more than someone with a bachelor’s degree.
Make your resume more appealing with business analytics certifications
As mentioned earlier, if you have a bachelor’s degree, your chances are already high that hiring managers will employ you to work for them. But for jobs like these that are in high demand, having some extra qualifications that set you apart from the rest wouldn’t hurt. Two of these certifications are offered by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). They aim to instill you with the skills necessary to make your resume more appealing, allowing hiring managers to pay special attention to your resume in particular.
Certification of Capability in Business Analysis (CCBA)
If you want to have a formal recognition that attests to your ability to work as a business analyst, then getting a CCBA certificate is for you. It shows that you already have experience as a business analyst (you need to work at least 3,750 hours in the last 7 years to be eligible) but still willing to learn new skills, This shows employers that you are highly dedicated to the professional development of your career.
Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
If you have been working in the field for 10 or more years, you should get the CBAP certification for professional recognition as well. Having this certificate shows the you have extensive knowledge as a business analyst that can be applied to an number of scenarios and in a number organizations.
Business analytics job paths
In this section, we will look at the career opportunities in business analytics that await you when you decide to work in this field. Here are few job titles that you can apply for:
Management Analyst/Consultant: As a management analyst/consultant, your job is to ensure that the business operations of the organization are carried out efficiently. In other words, you have to make sure that everything is working towards the good of the company in the most efficient way possible. This means you will work closely with members from various departments within the organization, from operations to sales, all the way to payroll and accounting, to find out which business processes need to be improved. After you work extensively with these departments to find solutions that can improve their efficiency, your job is to communicate the progress to upper management.
Data Analyst/Scientist: As a data analyst, your job will involve collecting data and using it for the benefit of the company you work for. To make the data useful, you will have to analyze it and present it in a form that is usable to the organization, such as tables, charts and reports. This means strong communication skills are a must if the data must be presented to management so that they can make informed decisions.
Business Intelligence Analyst: In order to give the organization you work for an advantage in the market, your job as a business intelligence analyst is to gather information, and analyze it. Through the process of analyzing the data, you will be able to give management a picture of where the business currently stands in the market, which will then influence their decision-making abilities to make their operations more profitable.
Program and Marketing Managers: Programming and marketing managers are responsible for coming up with and implementing an organization’s marketing strategy. This job usually involves managing all marketing, sales and marketing staff, on top of ensuring the success of multiple marketing campaigns. As such, strong leadership and communications skills are a must if you want to do this job effectively.
Big Data Analytics Specialist: According to PwC, there will be 2.7 million job postings for specialists in data analytics and science in 2020, making anyone pursuing this business analytics career path in high demand. As a big data analytic specialist, your job will be to use modern technology to solve the data challenges that an organization faces in the digital age. The solutions you come up with should result in the improvement of efficiency, business performance, and decision making.
Operations Research Analyst: As an operations research analyst, your job is to analyze an organization’s operations data and present it in a nuanced and relevant way that will give management insight on how to improve business operations. This is done by using information technology to perform the analysis and coming up with a workable solution to make the processes more efficient. After that, your job also requires you to present this information to the relevant stakeholders in the form of a comprehensive report.
Market Research Analyst: Working as a market research analyst means collecting and analyzing a large amount of marketing data for the company you work for. The analysis of the data should help the organization figure out potential customers, how much these potential customers should spend and how much they are willing to spend in regards to the product the company is selling on the market. It is believed that knowing these three things will lead to increased revenue over time.
Business Intelligence and Performance Management Consultants
Your job as a business intelligence and performance management consultant is to analyze the business operations of an organization and produce a detailed report telling them if these operations are performing efficiently. After that, your job is to propose solutions that will improve the processes and make them more efficient. This can involve things like restructuring an entire department or changing the way the organization does business as a whole.
Pricing and Revenue Optimization Analyst
The job of a pricing and revenue optimization analyst is to analyze data and reports for management regarding all financial aspects of the company, from manufacturing to sales. The purpose of this job is to figure out what the optimum price for selling the product on the market will be.
Earnings potential for a career path in business analytics
People who work in business analytics get good salaries. As mentioned earlier, when you pursue a career in this field, you should expect to make $70,170 per year, which is the national average salary. Let us make a quick comparison of what you stand to make working as a business analyst in the following major cities in the United States:
- New York City – $75,000
- San Francisco – $84,817
- Chicago – $84,203
- Boston – $65,000
- Los Angeles – $71,302
- Austin – $65,249
One thing is for certain, getting a career in Business Analytics can be lucritive. For example, someone working as a business analytics manager earns a yearly salary that is between $112,032 and $119,572, according to Salary.com. This means the average salary you should expect to get with a master’s degree in this field is $115,802, making it one of the most lucrative Master’s in Business Analytics careers out there.
If you love solving problems using a data-driven approach, then careers in business analytics are for you. Companies are always gathering and storing data with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. That is why data analysts will always be in demand, meaning you will probably enjoy a long career and a great salary in the process. If you want to find the best career opportunities in business analytics, consider getting a master’s degree, as companies will view you as extremely knowledgeable and dedicated to the field.
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