What is a Business Intelligence Analyst and What Do They Do?

Business intelligence (BI) is the use of software and services that help to turn data—often “big data”—into valuable insights. Those insights can then be used to form smarter decisions, plans and strategies. For example, companies can use BI to identify problems, increase efficiency, spot market trends early on and develop revenue-boosting strategies. It's the responsibility of business intelligence analysts to analyze the insights being generated and use them to help an organization’s key players make better decisions, plans and strategies.

Entry-level business intelligence analysts, which may hold job titles such as Business Intelligence Analyst I, Junior Business Intelligence Analyst or Assistant Business Intelligence Analyst, usually have skills in Microsoft Excel, SQL, databases, data warehouses and data visualization.Required skills vary considerably by organization and level; some roles may require additional skills such as Python programming or experience with specific analytical tools, and are suitable for higher-level professionals who have a few years of experience under their belt.

One way business intelligence analysts help organizations is by assessing four V’s of big data:

Volume: How much data is being processed, stored and analyzed
Variety: The different types of data that exist
Velocity: The speed of data processing
Veracity: The uncertainty of data

Assessing those four key big data elements can give business intelligence analysts a comprehensive view of their organization’s data that can then enable them to identify areas that need improvement, estimate the scope of their work and organize an effective data analysis plan.

With their exceptionally large data sets, data being analyzed often falls into the category of “big data.” Big data provides information, which generates understanding and enables smarter decisions. This doesn’t just apply to business—it's relevant for healthcare, crime prevention and other industries, and makes business intelligence analysis an exciting career.

Where do Business Intelligence Analysts fit into an organization?

Often, business intelligence analysts are part of an organization’s data science and BI department. Depending on the size of an organization, business intelligence analysts can work with a large team of data scientists and other business intelligence analysts, or they can operate in a small team or even independently.

Business intelligence analysts usually report to senior level executives, such as:

  • Director of Business Intelligence
  • Associate Director of Business Intelligence
  • Vice President of Business Intelligence

Entry-level business intelligence analysts, however, will typically report to a mid-level manager or higher-level analyst, such as:

  • Business Intelligence Manager
  • BI Project Manager
  • Senior Business Intelligence Analyst

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