business intelligence analyst

Today, most enterprises generate extraordinary amounts of data. This includes operational and transactional data; marketing and sales data; financial and accounting data; and data around utilisation of people and resources.  

This explosion of data has, in turn, led to a greater demand for BI and analytics solutions. The overall market for Business Analytics is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.3% from USD 67.92 billion in 2020 to USD 103.65 billion by 2026.  

While there are a wide variety of BI and analytics platforms available, the onus of garnering insights from all this data is on business intelligence (BI) analysts. In fact, it is one of the most in-demand jobs all over the world.  

Demand for qualified business intelligence analysts is expected to hit 14% by 2026, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the need for data professionals in general expected to climb to 28% by the same year beating projections for almost all other professions.  

In this post, we uncover the role of a BI analyst, key skills needed and why it is a unique role that requires aptitude for both business and technology.  

The Role of a BI Analysts in 2022 

A Business Intelligence Analyst is responsible for providing insights on various aspects of a company’s performance, which helps the management and business leaders make informed decisions. These insights identify the competitiveness of the enterprise, the company’s performance in the overall marketplace, and operational areas that need improvement in terms of efficiency and reducing costs. 

From a decision-making perspective, it is crucial to look both inward and outward. On one hand, enterprises are now building analytical models to look at internal data from various departments and functions. They are analysing this data to spot trends, identify opportunities and improve operational efficiency. Business leaders are unifying data from across departments to get a ‘single source of truth’ from across the enterprise.  

On the other hand, companies are increasingly looking at the overall industry – benchmarking themselves against competitors and trying to stay ahead of industry trends. More importantly, they want to understand what their customers need and want.  

BI teams are striving to leave no stone unturned in terms of culling out insights and using a combination of internal and external data points to improve overall business performance.  

Additionally, the world of analytics is no longer just about quantitative intelligence. Leaders are embracing AI and NLP technologies to build text analytics programs, to garner insights from documents, pdf files, social media chatter, and even reviews posted on e-commerce websites.  

A Typical Day at Work for a BI Analyst 

Based on the specific role, the business intelligence analysts’ responsibilities could include data gathering, data replication, data transformation, moving data from one source to a destination for processing, data interpretation, data analytics, and data presentation.  

The overarching goal is to go from raw data to actionable insights, but that’s easier said than done.  

Also, it is not only about culling out insights, but also presenting them in the form of dashboards, reports, and charts, so it’s easy to use for decision-makers. A team leader in the BI team at Merit believes that – “The future of BI will revolve around using more AI and machine learning to generate predictive insights.”  

We’re also witnessing an era where Data Storytelling is playing a key role in driving efficiency into the decision-making process. Overall, the day-to-day activities of a BI specialist include the following aspects:  

Data Collection 

Business intelligence can provide actionable insights only when the quality of the data is good. The BI specialist is tasked with gathering authentic and usable data from different sources such as field reports, market studies, industry publications, and public data. In addition to external data, there is also operational/transactional data being captured in ERP, CRM, and other business systems used by the company.  

In today’s scenario, we’re also seeing the adoption of numerous SaaS applications, and the question BI analysts are grappling with is how do we bring it all together, clean it up and transform the data for analytics.  

Data Storage 

The next step is to set up a data warehouse or data lake architecture (or even a combination of both) for running analytics and BI. The data warehouse used for BI could be on the cloud or on-premise, and companies must set up the BI infrastructure they need based on various factors including budget and availability of specialised IT talent. Of course, needless to say, data security and data governance are key and it is up to the BI team to take care of this.  

Data Analysis 

This is a crucial part of the BI Specialist’s responsibilities. It involves running analytics on the data to identify trends that could impact the company’s strategies.  

At this stage, it is critical to differentiate between operational analytics and strategic analytics. While tools like Power BI, Qlik and Tableau are ideal to garner insights to improve strategic decision-making, there is a critical need to use platforms that are built for operational reporting and analytics for analysing data in the ERP.  

Creating Actionable Insights 

While analytics may throw up patterns, they need to be presented in a usable format and processed further to create clear recommendations that can help meet the company’s objectives. 

Preparing Analytical Reports 

The BI Specialist then summarises the findings of the analytical reports and shares them with the relevant stakeholders in the company using existing communication channels.  

Collaborating for Success 

Analytics is not just a data-related activity but requires much interaction with internal and external teams. This will help the BI specialist come to grips with the trends in the company and the industry at large to know what is relevant and how it can impact growth. The specialist will also have to keep track of data flow such that it can be examined, summarised, and distributed at the right time to the right people. 

In addition to these activities, the business intelligence analyst also has to perform some periodic activities that include: 

  • Maintain or update the software/hardware related to business intelligence such as BI tools, databases, systems, dashboards, and processes 
  • Maintain a library of reusable knowledge assets such as model documents and templates 

Prerequisites for becoming a BI Specialist 

While a bachelor’s degree is enough to kickstart a career in business intelligence, a Master’s degree in Analytics and Business Intelligence will certainly be an asset. Some critical skills needed for a BI analyst include: 

  • Sound knowledge of the data lifecycle – Right from data gathering and harvesting to data presentation 
  • Good understanding of BI tools – Data Pipelines and Connectors, Data Warehouse Fundamentals, Data Visualisation, etc.  
  • Statistical analysis  
  • Ability to create dashboards and reports  
  • Fundamental knowledge of business processes and workflows within the organisation 

In addition to the above, some advanced skills that can further one’s prospects in the field include: 

  • Descriptive analytics 
  • Predictive analytics 
  • Methods of data collection  
  • A/B testing 
  • Forecasting 
  • Correlation and causation 
  • Regression analysis 
  • Data visualisation and interpretation 
  • Problem-solving and communication 

Would you like to have a chat with one of our BI specialists?  

At Merit, we are specialists in collecting high-volume, accurate industry-specific data, at scale and speed.  

Driven by our own data engine Data Xtractor, Merit enables rapid data collection, transformation, and ingestion from a diverse range of disparate online sources. Additionally, our data science and BI teams are specialists in several BI tools and technologies, and in partnership with our domain experts, we’re able to provide context-specific advice to the business situation your organisation is in. 

Of course, the role of a BI consultant is extremely dynamic, Merit’s team of professionals are curious and innovative in their use of new tools, skills, and approaches. Our solutions provide our clients with the technology and experience needed to drive performance and scale businesses in an economy driven by data.  

To know more about our business intelligence services, visit:

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