As the digital world continues to expand and evolve, so do the opportunities and careers that it creates. Today, every engagement and consumer transaction carried out in cyberspace creates a data trail of potentially profitable information. The massive amount of data being collected has given rise to the innovative field of business analytics, with tech-savvy market strategists searching for buried treasure in mountains of "big data."
Unlike customer surveys, reviews, feedback, and other subjective information-gathering mechanisms, virtual engagement and transaction records are basically data streams of objective facts. These streams offer reality-based insights into consumers' everyday activities, interests, and purchases.1 Highly incentivized by the potential value of this data, companies are turning to business analytics professionals to extract, analyze, and devise ways to profit from this prized consumer information.
If you're wondering if you should study business analytics, read on to learn how this degree can help you master profitable business intelligence and data-driven strategy to stand out among your peers.
What Is Business Analytics?
Business analytics is the process of using data to identify what a business needs to do to improve its bottom line. By building mathematical models from data, you can generate helpful insights to guide decisions and determine the right courses of action for a company or organization.1
From a more technical perspective, business analytics refers to the application of specific methodologies to analyze data and transform it into valuable information. By identifying and thus anticipating trends and outcomes, data-driven decisions help an organization make smarter business strategies.2
There are three major categories of business analytics:
Descriptive analytics is used to identify and analyze a company's historical business trends to recognize past impacts based on specific variables.1, 2
Predictive analytics is applied to a company's historical business data to help anticipate impacts that might happen in the future under certain circumstances, determined by specific criteria.1, 2
Prescriptive analytics provide helpful insights during a decision-making process. By applying a combination of descriptive and predictive analytics, prescriptive analytics provide insights anticipating specific future outcomes, indicating both when and why they will occur.1, 2
Why Is Business Analytics Becoming More Popular?
Although the professional field of business analytics is relatively new, the concept of mathematically analyzing specific measurements to make business improvements dates back at least to the 19th century. Henry Ford, the American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company, notably tracked the time required for each component as he perfected the assembly line technique of mass production.3, 4
These days, business analytics professionals are increasingly employed by major players in the tech sector, primarily in the metro regions of New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle.5, 6 However, as more data is available to more businesses than ever before, the field of business analytics is growing rapidly. Companies in nearly every industry are now using business analytics to improve decision-making and optimize business outcomes.1
What Makes a Good Business Analyst?
Especially in senior positions, business analysts possess a unique blend of state-of-the-art tech-savvy, a gift for public speaking, and inspirational leadership skills.1 Acting as the bridge between the present and future, they are incredibly influential; analysts are responsible for charting an organization's path by identifying, developing, and strategizing profitable changes and improvements to business processes.7
The following characteristics are required to excel as a business analyst and help explain why this field is particularly enticing to people with these qualities.
They Thrive in High-Tech Environments
Computer science, programming, software engineering, data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are all sources of inspiration and endless fascination for top-notch business analysts.9 Every day, business analysts rely heavily on computer software such as Tableau, SQL, Google Analytics, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint. They also use algorithms or computer application programs that they write themselves or may have been coded by others. These tools enable data collection and sorting, documentation, graphing, and other visualizations to aid comprehension and communication of findings, analyses, and results.8
They Are Gifted Communicators
People who have a natural gift for storytelling, as well as for analysis, may naturally gravitate toward business analytics. Great communication skills help liven up the boardroom atmosphere, generate more interest in analytical findings and recommended next steps, and significantly increase the ability to influence decision-making.1
Consulting with a diverse team of personnel, interacting with other organizational decision-makers, clarifying ideas, and explaining complex analyses in easily digestible terms are all necessary skills for a business analyst. Their role utilizes all forms of communication, including speaking, writing, and visual media creation to effectively work with everyone from fellow analysts to the top company brass.9
They Are Natural Leaders
In addition to having high-tech analytical skills and a gift for storytelling, business analysts need to be strong and ethical leaders. Oftentimes, an analyst’s work can span the entire spectrum of organizational processes and affect multiple departments and outcomes. Because both power and influence come with the enviable role of guiding an entire organization's procedures, a successful analyst will have a strong moral compass to avoid letting their ego interfere with what’s right. Furthermore, this power and influence also requires shouldering the unenviable weight of those decisions, so maturity and expertise are critical qualities to help them lead their teams through all the successes and failures they will experience 1, 9
Business Analytics Career Opportunities
Career opportunities in the field of business analytics are outstanding, and average annual salaries are impressive as well. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the national median annual salary for business and financial management analysts was $87,660 in May 2020.10 The annual mean wage in Washington's Metro Seattle region was $114,140, the third highest in the nation, following Greater San Francisco and Greater New York City, with $115,170 and $119,170, respectively.11
The employment outlook for business analysts is especially favorable. Employment in the field is projected to grow 11% from 2019 to 2029, much quicker than the average growth rate for all other occupations. Industries projected to see particularly high growth include healthcare, information technology, and government agencies.12 But as the demand for business analysts continues to rise, the diversity of career opportunities is expected to increase as well.12
Are You Ready to Advance Your Career?
If you're already a student of business analytics, or a prospective student looking to enhance your career, consider how an Online Master of Science in Business Analytics (OMSBA) can prepare you for some of the most prominent and instrumental opportunities in the modern business world.
Offered by the AACSB-accredited Albers School of Business and Economics at Seattle University, our Online MSBA program provides the freedom and flexibility to fit studies around your active schedule. Shaped by the ethical and technological environment that defines the Seattle market, our courses will equip you with valuable analytical, communication, visualization, and moral leadership skills. By combining all of this with state-of-the-art data engineering knowledge and expertise, you’ll become a top contender in the competitive arena of profitable business intelligence and data-driven strategy.
- Retrieved 19 May 2021, from usnews.com/education/learn-business-analytics-guide
- Retrieved 19 May 2021, from omnisci.com/technical-glossary/business-analytics
- Retrieved 19 May 2021, from topuniversities.com/university-rankings-articles/world-university-rankings-masters-business-analytics/why-business-analytics-so-important
- Retrieved 19 May 2021, from thoughtco.com/henry-ford-and-the-assembly-line-1779201
- Retrieved 19 May 2021, from zippia.com/business-analyst-jobs/best-states/
- Retrieved 19 May 2021, from glassdoor.com/Explore/top-business-analyst-companies_IO.4,20.htm
- Retrieved 19 May 2021, from e-careers.com/connected/role-business-analysis-so-important
- Retrieved 19 May 2021, from cio.com/article/2436638/project-management-what-do-business-analysts-actually-do-for-software-implementation-projects.html
- Retrieved 19 May 2021, from mastersofbusinessanalytics.com/degrees/10-reasons-to-choose-a-business-analytics-degree/
- Retrieved 19 May 2021, from bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm#tab-5
- Retrieved 19 May 2021, from bls.gov/oes/current/oes131111.htm#st
- Retrieved 19 May 2021, from bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm#tab-6