Every business strives to provide the goods and services their customers need. Guessing what these needs are is not enough considering how competitive businesses have become. This is why businesses turn to big data. Businesses are now collecting massive amounts of data on their customers, including their customers’ demographics, location, buying patterns, and more. This huge amount of data has to be analyzed so that businesses can use it. This is where business analytics comes in. Below, we will see why every business needs business analytics, and how to become a business analytics professional.
Differences Between a Business Analyst and a Business Analytics Professional
The jobs of business analysts and business analytics professionals are very similar, but both of these professionals focus on different aspects of a business and have different approaches to the way they do their jobs.
- Business Analytics focus more on data as well as statistical analysis and reporting on the data placed in front of them. They do this primarily to help provide business insights, improve performance, and analyze the performance of a business. When they work with outside clients, these professionals look to improve products, marketing performance, and customer experience by providing data-driven insights.
- Business Analysts analyze the processes and functions of a business and provide advice on how to improve and optimize them. Their main focus is to find out what makes a business tick and provide insights on how to improve things.
What Do Business Analytics Professionals Do?
“Business analysts are the people that have the needed knowledge, skills, and sources of information to decide on the direction the business needs to take to succeed in the future.” – CIO
Business analytics professionals focus on finding the best opportunities with the highest chance of success, coming up with strategies that would be most beneficial to the business and preparing a company for any changes in how they do things.
Even though there has always been a demand for business analytics professionals, what has changed is their scope of work and how their work can be applied in a company. This change in scope and application is due to the need for businesses not to enter into risky ventures by using data available to them to direct them.
Businesses know that for data to be useful, it has to be:
- …and then put to work
This is where business analytics professionals come in. The conclusions and recommendations they come up with allow a business to understand its operational environment, find out how to beat the competition, and help a business make better business decisions to increase revenue and profits.
Business analytics professionals also give businesses guidance on decision making so decisions are made fast and precisely.
Business Analytics Will Help Your Business Massively
Here are a few ways business analytics will help your business:
- It helps businesses stay ahead in a changing environment – If you want to stay competitive, you have to be able to see things before they happen. Staying ahead like this requires that you grow and make changes very fast. Being informed to be able to change and grow requires that you are always armed with the latest data on best practices and industry trends. Business analytics also provides data on opportunities and challenges so that your business can survive in a very competitive world.
- It helps build better customer relationships – Data lets companies understand their customers, their needs, their behaviour, and any problems they need to be solved. Analytics also helps a business better understand the public’s perception of its brand, how its marketing campaigns are doing, and how to craft better marketing campaigns to strengthen its relationship with its customers.
- Analytics helps businesses plan for the future – Data is a very potent forecasting tool if it is used the right way. When a business understands possible risks and opportunities that lie ahead, it can better plan for the future knowing that any decisions it makes are backed by data.
- It helps eliminate operational inefficiencies – Business analytics exposes inefficiencies in a business’s practices and processes, thereby giving the business a chance to eliminate them.
- It helps companies have a bigger impact – Business analytics lets businesses understand the environments they operate in and therefore helps the businesses make decisions that help them grow. Business analytics provides timeliness in decision making and competitiveness as it allows a business to dissect data and information fast. It therefore helps it stay competitive and gives businesses clarity by helping a business understand where it stands in its industry or niche.
A Career in Business Analytics
One fact about business analytics is that the demand for professionals is still higher than the supply. This is especially true now that companies have realized the advantages of data and how to use it. As more and more companies realize this, the demand for business analytics professionals will only grow.
More importantly, business analytics can be a great second career. Business analytics is so easy to get into and can be applied in any industry. If you pursue your degree online at an institution like Aston University, you can work in almost any industry. You can click here to check out their business analytics program. After graduation, you have a chance of going into banking, education, sports, automotive, entertainment or any business that deals with big data.
Business analytics professionals have very dynamic, challenging and exciting careers. Things are always changing in the world of data and businesses will never stop collecting data. It therefore means that a business analytics professional will always have some new challenges to tackle. Business analytics professionals also work with people from any other departments, which means they get to enrich their knowledge about their company and its intricacies. All these combined skills can be carried over to other careers if you ever decide to switch from being a data analytics professional.
Becoming a Data Analytics Professional
There are some general skills needed to become a data analytics professional. They include:
- Ability to do A/B testing
- Able to work with different stakeholders in a company
- Be result-driven
- Basic knowledge of statistical tools like Excel
- Ability to collaborate with others
Other skills include:
- Core analytics skills. These consist of:
- Problem-solving skills – Logical thinking, analytics, and statistics are areas that you will focus on a lot. You have to be able to see problems and solve them.
- Visualization skills – Here, you need to be able to translate and visualise data in a way that makes it easier for others to understand it.
- Critical thinking skills – Business analytics professionals deal with huge amounts of data. They have to think critically about how and what data to collect as well as the impact of the final data they hand to other stakeholders.
- Inquisitiveness – Natural curiosity and the drive to keep learning are vital for business analytics professionals.
- Good communication skills – A huge chunk of your work will be presenting the final data to other people. You have to be able to present your findings concisely to not only help others understand the data, but to also help others come up with recommendations.
- Technical Skills. Having a technical understanding of all analytical tools you will be using is vital. Some of these tools include:
- Statistical languages – Common analytical programming languages are R (which is used for statistical analysis), and python, used for general programming. Although this skill is not vital, it could become handy when you are presented with a huge set of data to analyse.
- SQL – SQL is a query language for databases. It is vital for anyone working with big data. Business Analytics professionals use this query language to pull data from databases and develop visualizations that help others understand this data.
- Statistical software – If you do not know how to code, there are lots of software that you can use in this line of work. One good example is Excel, which is used to manage and analyse data.
Some Businesses are Skeptical of Business Analytics
Although a lot of businesses understand they need business analytics professionals, they are also hesitant to buy in. This is because there is the risk of exposure of private information, noise in the final data which could muddy the recommendations, a risk of wasting money on recommendations that came from bad data, and the risk of financial exposure.
Because of all the issues raised above, you might have to convince a lot of people if you already work at a company and are looking to switch to a business analytics career.
That said, there are a few best practices that companies can follow to reduce risk. These are:
- Validating every recommendation using a set of criteria and past successes and failures
- Defining what success and failure means to know whether a model or recommendations is working or not
- Knowing why the business needs business analytics. A business should know what to expect at the end of a business analytics endeavor beforehand.
A career in business analytics is very exciting. The one thing everyone can agree on is that companies need data to make the best decisions possible and business analytics professionals are the people to analyze this data and come up with recommendations on what needs to be done next.