What is a Business Intelligence Analyst?

Business Intelligence AnalystAs business grows and collects more kinds of information, the need for a business intelligence analyst that can interpret and analyze the data will grow as well. This is especially true as industries approach the global market and deal with cultural issues in their supply chains and in attracting customers worldwide.


Think about a person reading a lesson on fly fishing who doesn’t understand English, but does know the alphabet. He collects every bit of communication he can find about fly fishing and puts it in a drawer. It does him no good until someone who can read English interprets the information for him and he can use it to become a proficient fisherman. That is a pretty basic illustration, but useful nevertheless. According to Wise Geek, business intelligence specialists are professionals who use the “data warehouse” of a corporation as a resource to gather information that will give a realistic picture of how the company is performing, and how it stands in the industry. Managers can then use the analyses of the data to make informed decisions about how to keep their businesses competitive.

What They Do

These professionals use computer systems and data storing technologies to retrieve specific information. They are people who have a background in the industry or organization for which they work, and understand what is relevant to the area being researched. According to Plotting Success,  the responsibilities of these analysts can be divided into three areas: they must set up and administer an information system; understand the question being asked so they can separate and analyze the data according to that requirement and understand and communicate the results. In other words, these are computer specialists who understand the world of IT. They use the systems to get the right data, study the data to arrive at a conclusion and interpret that solution so that the managers can use the information. That means designing programs that will access the right material, a process called mining, and generating reports. The profession also involves interfacing with other employees of the company, or with customers, to present the information, so communication skills are vital.

Where Do They Work?

They work in every industry, but most are employed in healthcare. That is because this industry has “boomed” in recent years and the largest category of data they store is in payer processes. Employers in the healthcare industry are likely to require applicants for these jobs to have experience in the business side of healthcare. The second biggest employer of these professionals is the software industry because of the intense competitive nature of the business. These jobs are not as interested in previous experience, but insist on competence in working with the most advanced programming such as SQL, Oracle and other standard software. Intelligence analysts are also in demand in the financial and banking industries.

Related Resource: Cybercrime Investigator

Education Needed

The gold standard is a master’s degree. Most employers prefer that degree to be in computer science, but other preferences are business and IT. The degrees can be specialized to healthcare or finances as well. Along with expertise in the computer field, these professionals are expected to have good interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate both verbally and in writing. Some employers will accept applicants with three to five years of experience, but most prefer six or more years working in the field.
Careers in this field require detail-oriented people who enjoy working with computers. They earn $85,000 to $122,000 a year. The job growth outlook for a business intelligence analyst is excellent, a robust 22 percent.