You can choose a career in Business Intelligence as an Analyst if a) you find Computer Science and its varied applications in Business impressive b) you have a prior degree in computer applications c) the idea of finding patterns in large amounts of information, data and analysis makes you think and gets you excited.
Role of a Business Intelligent Analyst is very interesting, let alone an exciting field of work. You can shift to an analyst job anytime in your career because the shift isn’t very difficult if you hone certain Business Intelligence skills required in the industry.
In fact with your skills refined you can plant your feet in two separate areas of business intelligence – Business Strategy and Computer Science.
Moreover, experts highly predict that demand for BI professionals in the coming years will only increase globally, which may result in talent shortage. Perhaps this is the right time and opportunity to explore the field and expand your Business Intelligence Analyst skillsets?
Why Specific Skills are Required for this Career?
In this BI and BA job, Business Analysis (BA) and Business Intelligence (BI) tools and techniques are used to build solution that effectively align data and technology to produce actionable guidance in business decision making.
BI-BA is required in various stages of business cycle, such as data sourcing, data analysis, and integration & presentation of information. A Freelance Business Intelligence Analyst will be expected to have both, hard and soft skills.
However, there are certain critical skill sets that determine a BI BA role, over and above the traditional skills, like critical thinking, problem solving, error checking, technical writing, leadership skills, management skills etc.
Here they are;
7 Must Have Skills for Freelance Business Intelligence Analysts
1. Data Analysis and Data Modeling
You have to acutely understand data and information. Data can be presented to you in any form, most often in bits and pieces. You will have to put them together, comprehend them and convert them into viable insights.
You should have the ability to deploy high-level data modelling tools and methods and think conceptually to map out the exact position of a business organization.
Furthermore, you should also demonstrate a solid understanding on how data move within the organization – from operational sources and systems, through various transformational processes, to ultimately the employees and management for making decisions.
2. Business Acumen – A Fundamental Business Skill
Although, the listed skills in this post are all equally important, Business Acumen is considered the fundamental skill that you should definitely adapt and expand as a freelancer.
Business acumen skill gives you an ability to understand the business domain, specific to a particular industry and translate the same to others. You have to develop a sound knowledge of the industry, of the organization and its business models, structure, strategy & objectives, its key problems and competitors.
As a freelance BI BA you should be able to follow a top down approach to translate organization’s plan of actions into metrics, measures, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Business acumen is needed in all levels – executive, operational and management level – to support day to day as well as tactical decision making activities.
3. Business Intelligence Methodology and Journey
Like, System Development Lifecycle (SDLC) know-how is must for BAs, BI Methodology and BI Journey understanding, department and organization wise,is must for BIBAs.
BI Methodology knowledge requirement includes: How requirements generate and flow through the BI development procedure; what are the Key Handover Points; what is the control and maintenance process required after each project closure; how to delegate the BI team members and how to bring them together.
BI Journey asks for: Understanding how BI approach can help the organization’s intention to move from maturity to maturity levels; what are the technical tools and platforms needed to do this; what kind of organization structure is needed to achieve organizational goals using BI.
4. Politics Navigation
As a freelance Business Intelligence Analyst, you will cross a number of departments and functional areas for work. While your main focus would be digging up the truth from each department, you may often be victimised for turf wars between departments, stake holders and management.
You will also encounter stakeholders having own schemes and plots for a particular BI solution or adamant stakeholders unwilling to share information. Amidst all of these, you will be expected to skilfully dodge organizational politics to define key business and data terminology.
5. Knowledge of Business Intelligence Specific Software and Programs
Some of the important BI tools and programs employers typically seek in freelancers are: MS Office applications, especially Advanced Excel for analysis and pivotal of data; Visio for data modelling; SharePoint for customised input list creation; MS Access (optional).
Computer query language proficiency: Microsoft SQL. The MS SQL proficiency shall help analysts to understand formats, grain and structure of data to change analysis from intangible to tangible forms and real life examples.
You should know to use COTS (Commercial off the Shelf) BI and Analytics software applications.
6. Structure Creation Skill and High Tolerance Level for Ambiguity
Business Intelligence is not an easy field to work in. Its scopes and requirements are mostly scattered, ill-defined and notorious before the analysis begins. In fact data quality and structure are also not clear and upfront.
What you need in here is a soft skill that shall help you to navigate through the fog of ambiguity and create a stable structure for yourself, your BI team and stakeholders as you proceed in the process.
7. Understanding the Bigger Picture and Be Detailed Oriented
We would like to rank even these two skills as number one for one simple reason – each data that you would encounter may not be large or clear. Sometimes you will be working with finest grain of data.
You have put all of your efforts to dissect it in subtle details, such as where it came from, how many times it has transformed, what are the rules, who is the owner, who is the user etc. and further put all these information together to understand the organization’s vision, how the data translate in to a long term strategy, objective and organizational tactics and finally how these strategies and objectives translate into metrics, measures and KPIs.