In the information age, businesses have tools and technology to manipulate data in ways that were only ideas two decades ago. Not only can businesses now see how their customers are behaving, what they’re engaging with, and — most importantly — what they’re buying, but they can see it happening in real-time.
This examination of a business’s performance data is called business analytics, which is now the driving force behind most of the decisions any given company makes. The core idea behind business analytics — and, by extension, business analytics careers — is to understand data in such a way that it can be used to predict the future of the market, consumer behavior, or other relevant events. Additionally, analytics can be used to gather insights into a company’s internal processes and inefficiencies.
The gathering and interpreting of data can be performed in numerous ways. For instance, data mining is the process of analyzing large datasets in search of patterns, trends, correlations, and anomalies. Another method, predictive analytics, uses statistical data to predict future trends using a combination of machine learning techniques and statistical models. Business analytics professionals use these methods and others to ascertain key information about a business and develop growth and maintenance strategies.
Individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in business analytics should consider a degree that will adequately prepare them for the challenge. An advanced degree, such as a Master of Business Analytics (MBAn), can put candidates in prime positions to explore a wide range of in-demand careers that require in-depth analysis of large datasets.
What Does a Data Scientist Do?
Overseeing the storage and collection of data, searching through large datasets looking for patterns and usable information, and organizing and interpreting data for businesses are just a few of the possible answers to a question prospective business analytics students may be asking: “What does a data scientist do?”
Companies have access to terabytes of data pertaining to sales, click-through rates, customer reviews, and numerous other data points of valuable information. However, unrefined and unorganized data doesn’t tell a story and offers no insight, which is where data scientists come into play.
These professionals find the most efficient ways to automate the collection of data, categorize it, and securely store it for further analysis. A data scientist is a critical asset because they can collect data from various sources such as customer records, Google Analytics, website activity, historical stock price, and other relevant data points that are traditionally siloed.
After collecting data, they then clean it and transform it into a format a machine will understand, known as a machine-learning algorithm. Using this algorithm, the collected data is refined down to monitor patterns, trends, and other valuable insights that can show what a company is doing effectively.
This same methodology can be used to find inefficiencies. With this information, executives can identify growth strategies and future market trends. Essentially, the data predicts what’s going to happen before it happens, which allows the company to adjust its approach accordingly and capitalize on the opportunity.
Data Scientist Skills and Education Requirements
Those wishing to pursue a career as a data scientist will need strong math, analytical, and critical thinking skills. Additionally, data scientists require at least two years of experience with SQL and statistical software packages such as Python, R, and SAS.
A bachelor’s degree in applied math, statistics, or computer science is the minimum level of education required to become a data scientist; however, many employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree.
Data Scientist Salary
The value that a data scientist brings makes it one of the fastest-growing business analytics careers across all industries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the employment of computer and information research scientists to grow 22% between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than the labor market as a whole (8% projected growth). According to October 2021 data from PayScale, data scientists made a median annual salary of approximately $96,600.
A Look at the Business Data Analyst Role
Data scientists and business data analysts both work with large quantities of data, and they both look for trends, patterns, and insights that help a company make decisions. However, whereas a data scientist uses data to make predictions, a business data analyst is retrospective in nature, serving as a link between a company’s data division and the rest of the organization. They use data to identify problems and their business acumen to determine solutions.
The analysis of business data is used for strategic planning and to optimize company performance. For example, a business data analyst may find that the company is spending a large amount of money on a software package subscription that no one is using. Knowing this, they would cancel the subscription to save the company money. A business data analyst is uniquely qualified to make these decisions because — unlike a data scientist — they understand both worlds. Not only are they experts in data and technology, but they also understand how they fit into the larger context of an organization’s processes, goals, products and services, and the overall market.
Once a business data analyst gathers, cleans, and analyzes data using statistical software, they can then make recommendations for improvements to the business’s operational procedures. Those recommendations can apply to any facet of the business, whether it’s information technology, customer service, or marketing.
Business data analysts can also design various systems to gather operational data that offers valuable insight into the company’s functionality. For instance, a business data analyst at a retail clothing store may discover that peak customer hours for most locations are between noon and 5 p.m. on Saturday. That tells the business it should staff the store with more employees during that time frame to adequately handle the influx of customers.
Conversely, a business data analyst might discover that most stores do little to no business on Monday mornings. This lets them know they don’t need as many resources on hand, saving the company money on payroll. This is just one of the many examples of how business data analysts optimize company processes.
Business Data Analyst Skills and Education Requirements
To succeed in the role of a business data analyst, candidates will need a strong skill set in math, advanced analytics, critical thinking, communication skills, and business intelligence, as well as proficiency in SQL, Tableau, Microsoft Excel, and other software packages.
The minimum level of education required for the position is a bachelor’s degree in management or business administration; however, a master’s degree in business analytics will better prepare a candidate for the role, in addition to making them more appealing to employers.
Business Data Analyst Salary
According to PayScale, the median annual salary for a business intelligence analyst was approximately $69,800 as of October 2021, with those in the top 10th percentile making around $96,000 per year.
Business Consultant Career at a Glance
Compared with other business analytics careers, being a business consultant is more entrepreneurial in nature. Whereas data scientists and business data analysts are full-time employees, business consultants are hired on a contractual basis, charging by the hour, day, or project. Their employment is brief but can make a significant impact.
For a business owner who is overwhelmed by the responsibility of running a business or is inexperienced in certain areas, hiring a business consultant is a great way to gauge company health, find inefficiencies, and identify areas of opportunity. Business consultants are highly skilled in several areas of business by trade and have a wealth of experience to draw from. That makes them an ideal resource for a business owner to partner with on a short-term basis to benefit from their expertise. Business consultants routinely help struggling businesses recover, assist businesses in their expansion into other markets, and aid in the creation of more efficient operational strategies.
Business consultants may perform any number of job functions based on the business and situation they’re walking into. Their most common responsibilities include:
- Evaluating a company objectively as a disinterested third party
- Identifying inefficiencies and redundancies
- Providing additional training to employees and management
- Identifying problems and areas of opportunity
- Providing insight on the industry’s specific market
- Helping management facilitate change in the company
Typically, business consultants operate on a timeline consisting of three distinct phases.
- Phase 1 — Discovery: The business consultant gets to know the company and learns about the business. They will meet with management and employees, tour the facility, and review pertinent data such as finances.
- Phase 2 — Evaluation: The business consultant identifies the company’s strengths and weaknesses, in addition to pointing out potential areas of concern and areas of potential growth.
- Phase 3 — Solutions: The business consultant lays out precise recommendations to improve the business. Their objectivity is important here because they may recommend letting go of employees for the sake of the company’s overall health.
Business Consultant Skills and Education Requirements
To succeed in the role of a business consultant, candidates will need to have well-honed math, critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving skills, along with a wealth of industry-specific knowledge.
A bachelor’s degree in business management or a similar field is typically the minimum level of education required to enter the field of business consulting. Business consultants with an MBA or similar graduate degree have an easier time attracting potential clients. The number of years of experience as a business consultant also plays a factor.
Business Consultant Salary
As the role of a business consultant is entrepreneurial, they negotiate their rate with the client. However, according to PayScale, the median annual salary for business consultants was approximately $75,600 as of October 2021.
What Does a Business Analytics Manager Do?
Business analytics managers lead data analysis teams and oversee their day-to-day operations. Some of their common responsibilities include:
- Creating effective methods of gathering and refining data
- Monitoring the latest analysis tools and software packages
- Assigning specific tasks to analysts
- Checking the work of analysts to ensure accuracy
- Facilitating continuous education and training to further develop their team of analysts
- Managing project timelines
- Creating reports and presenting findings to superiors/leadership team
- Taking part in the company’s strategic planning
Business Analytics Manager Skills and Education Requirements
Since this is a managerial role, business analytics managers require leadership and communication skills, along with a strong business sense. Additionally, they should be proficient in analytics and knowledgeable about the most common analytical software packages.
Although the minimum level of education required to become a business analytics manager is a bachelor’s degree in analytics or a related field, those with an MBA can be more attractive to potential employers, especially if they have previous management experience.
Business Analytics Manager Salary
According to PayScale, the median annual salary for the role was approximately $98,200 as of October 2021.
The Role of Director of Business Analytics
The director of business analytics’ core job function is to oversee the process of strategy development based on the insights, trends, and patterns gleaned from the refined data collected by a team of analysts. They primarily function as a liaison between the analytics team and company leadership.
Because they have both a background in analytics and an intimate understanding of the business and its goals, they are uniquely qualified to convey strategies and recommendations informed by the data. Additionally, directors of business analytics analyze outside market data to set internal benchmarks and company goals.
Director of Business Analytics Skills and Education Requirements
To succeed, a director of business analytics will need strong leadership and communication skills, along with proficiency in using analytical software tools. Required experience varies by company, but employers generally require candidates to have a certain number of years in management and several years of analytical experience.
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum level of education for this position; however, many employers prefer directors to have a master’s in business analytics, computer science, or a related field.
Director of Business Analytics Salary
According to PayScale, directors of business analytics made a median annual salary of approximately $118,400 as of September 2021, with those on the top 10th percentile making around $157,000 per year.
Be the Future of Business
Individuals drawn to math, statistics, and working with large datasets can pursue a wide variety of business analytics careers. The important work that analysts and data scientists do helps companies identify their areas of weakness and strength, which they can use to improve and grow.
The first step toward a career in business analytics is education, and Ohio University’s Online Master of Business Analytics puts students who are passionate about data and technology in a position to pursue their professional goals. With courses in descriptive analytics, predictive analytics, and business intelligence, Ohio University’s MBAn program offers students the foundation for a successful career in business analytics. Take the first step on your journey today.