While the value of business intelligence (BI) has been known for years, the exponential growth in data, increasing adoption of data-driven decision-making practices, and the growing sophistication of these practices resulting from advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning in recent years means that business intelligence professionals are playing a crucial role in the growth plans of the world’s leading companies.
This has understandable implications for the business intelligence job market: the US Department of Labor’s O*NET OnLine, drawing on data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, gives business intelligence analyst a “bright outlook” for the future, meaning over 8% growth and over 100,000 job openings by 2031. But what does a career as a business intelligence analyst look like and what do you need to break into this field? In this guide, we’ll break down exactly what business intelligence is, the kinds of positions companies are hiring for and the skills they expect candidates to have, and the ways you can start skilling up to launch yourself into the field.
What is business intelligence?
According to business intelligence software provider Tableau, business intelligence (BI)
“combines business analytics, data mining, data visualization, data tools and infrastructure, and best practices to help organizations make more data-driven decisions.”
Just what does this look like? Some use-cases of business intelligence include:
Deploying a machine learning algorithm to segment a customer base and optimize marketing spend with targeted advertising
Analyzing work processes and other business operations to detect and address inefficiencies
Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) in real-time to more quickly identify trends and inform strategic planning
What kinds of careers are there in business intelligence?
When it comes to working in business intelligence, there are two primary capacities: as a business intelligence analyst and as a business intelligence engineer. Here’s how they differ, further illustrated by a real-world job posting for each:
Business intelligence analyst
A business intelligence analyst is responsible for collecting, preparing, and analyzing data and then communicating insights through reports, dashboards, or other visualizations. To do so, they meet frequently with business stakeholders to understand information needs.
Business intelligence analyst salary
In the US, the average salary for a business intelligence analyst is around $89,000.
Business intelligence analyst skills
To succeed as a business intelligence analyst, you need the following skillset:
Computer science and information technology: Microsoft Excel, SQL and Tableau, Python or R programming language, BI tools such as IBM’s Power BI
Mathematics: probability, statistics, data analysis and data modeling skills, and potentially linear algebra for machine learning
Data management: data pipeline management, data warehouse querying and other skills, cloud computing with AWS, and data visualization
Business: basic understanding of business fundamentals