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Grow Your Business With Talent And Tech Combined

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Grow Your Business

Future business success will depend heavily on the next-generation systems that collect, analyze, and apply data. However, that alone won’t build successful new or ambitious organizations. That is because there is also a pressing need for next-generation talent, to deliver relevant and potent business analytics.

In other words, businesses of all types and sizes now have an immensely exciting digital ‘toolbox’ to use. This toolbox can help them collate data to improve all operations, sales, and marketing aspects. To take advantage of this toolbox, they must be at the front of the queue in recruiting young people and mature graduates, specialists, decision-makers, and visionaries who can unlock the power of that data.

Big data’s endless potential

Big data is the name given to the vast amount of digital information now available. This is impossible to quantify accurately, though Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt estimates that there are around 5 million terabytes or 5 billion gigabytes of data on the internet alone. This figure is constantly growing of course.

If your organization is investing in creating an authentic digital workplace, it involves gathering and using data to meet your specific business needs and goals. This includes hardware and software to improve and control end-to-end data. From your inventory to your after-sales service, successful ventures of all kinds now rely on data transparency and flow.

The software and systems certainly exist to enable you to extract data from any part of your operations and outreach, and you can even do that remotely, and focus on both historic and predictive data.

“Data can be a company’s most valuable asset”, according to Google. This includes the potential to track customer behaviors and preferences to create highly personalized marketing campaigns. A great example is the way online retailers ‘suggest’ products you might like.

Another vivid illustration of the vastness of data now available involves the sensors that can be placed on individual shipping containers and pallets of goods. Not only can you track delivery schedules with pinpoint accuracy, but you can also monitor the status of the goods in transit.

These are just some of the ways big data is transforming our work and lives, but its size brings ever-growing security issues and increasing demand for skilled data scientists and business analysts.

What is meant by business analytics?

Access to detailed and diverse data increases all the time, and so does the need to interpret and apply that data effectively. This is where the science of data analytics comes in, especially graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to transform data to meet your specific business needs and goals.

Business analytics is also sometimes referred to as business intelligence, although this can include information from multiple sources rather than just data. It all comes down to the technology, strategies and skills needed to transform data into actionable decisions.

Not only does this method of creating data-driven business decisions vary in terminology, but you will also see this job role described in various ways, such as business analyst, enterprise analyst, business systems analyst and business architect.

To further clarify this vital but complex modern business improvement option, you will also sometimes see the process described at different levels. Data analysis is often the ‘mining’ of data and collating the digital information. Business intelligence is used to refer to the visualization and sorting of data into sets, while business analytics is sometimes used solely for the level at which the findings are applied and used to support informed decision-making.

A business analytics expert in collecting and evaluation digital information would usually optimize data in three main ways:

Forensic/historic/descriptive analysis

As the title suggests, one of the advantages of having employees proficient in business analytics is that you can dig into previously collated or generated data, to look for patterns, problems, and potential.

This can help to uncover threats or opportunities for a business and help it to create meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs); the sort of operational goals that can grow that business effectively.

For example, is there a way you can do things faster or more profitably? You could use business analytics to explore the best ways to manage waste in terms of materials and time, for example. Could the layout of your production line be amended to improve performance?

This type of analysis can also ensure that the cost of your goods and services and your sales totals are still delivering a solid profit margin.

Real time/diagnostic analysis

This category of business analytics can cover a great many different commercial requirements, but ultimately makes it easier to control your daily operations.  For instance, you can monitor your machines and workforce from anywhere in the world to make sure they are functioning smoothly, and on track to meet your business goals.

A professional in business analytics can create ways for a business to generate live data that makes your entire enterprise more transparent. Having the ability to constantly measure and monitor your organization’s performance means you can step in quickly when problems occur. You can also offer your customers a more agile and responsive business service, as real-time data transparency means changes can be made swiftly and effectively.

Predictive/prescriptive analysis

Just a few years ago it would have been hard to imagine that organizations would have the potential to ‘see into the future’. However, that is now a reality if you have the correct technology and talent for predictive analysis. This basically involves designing data management projects that can map future trends, patterns, and cost scenarios for instance.

An example of this in practice would be taking data on your product performance to date, and your current marketplace, and then using that to explore the potential for a product amendment. Predictive analysis could look at the feasibility of your current R&D project, and the sort of customers most likely to respond well to it.

Alternatively, you could use business analytics to forecast whether a new development would generate a sufficient return on investment.

Confident business decision-making

At the core of all business analytics is the potential to create a more resilient and sustainable enterprise. Learning from previous performance and becoming more agile as an organization will certainly help you to respond more effectively to changes and issues in your marketplace, as well as trade or global events that impact your operations.

Using data to assess performance and predict developments greatly improves the confidence of your decision-making. Changes can be made using evidence-based business strategies and insights. Of course, one of the most impressive advantages of being proficient at data analysis in your business is that you can manage your costs better, keep your cash flow healthier and invest wisely. This sort of financial payback alone is sufficient reason to employ a qualified business analytics graduate.

Harnessing the power of data can create a far closer relationship between your organization and its customers and supply chain. This can underpin profitable growth and provide a clear return on investment from business analytics.

Who manages and applies this ‘data power’?

The answer to that is often young graduates who have grown up in the technological age and who are entirely comfortable with its opportunities and threats. They rely on technology for their work, leisure, lifestyle, travel, health and even to run their homes and cars. Naturally, they are often seen as the most likely candidates to grasp both the value of data, and the skills needed for competent management of its vastness.

It is important to note, however, that anyone exploring the idea of a second degree and even a second career in the field of business analytics also has plenty of options and opportunities too. The Master of Business Analytics online program offered by a reputable institution such as St. Bonaventure University could be an exciting stepping stone to an in-demand job role. Online programs are ideal for those with existing job and family commitments due to their flexibility. This program is designed to build the skills and knowledge needed to take on leadership and innovative posts in this field, including the confidence to apply advanced methodologies, and then communicate findings to employers. The Master’s in Business Analytics program is open to graduates of any bachelor of arts or science degree.

The job market for business analysts

Armed with the proper knowledge and skills to manage, sort and interpret data expertly, there is a highly diverse range of ways you can advance your career in business analytics. The demand for data transparency and control extends across all areas of industry, commerce, government, healthcare and just about every other type of workplace.

U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics suggest that this already buoyant employment sector is set to grow at a far faster rate than most other professions, and projects 10% growth in jobs for business analysts in the decade from 2022 to 2032.

To provide further context, the value of the global analytics market was projected to reach $57m by 2023, and then achieve $105bn by 2027. This is largely due to the development of advanced artificial intelligence tools.

It is worth noting too that 95% of employers say finding someone with the best data science and analytics skills is tough, making this an attractive first or second career option. If you choose to earn a degree as a business analyst, it can lead to a wide range of roles and the daily work life of someone with these skills can vary too. However, the fundamental aim would always be to help shape business decisions, by designing and delivering powerful data to support that.

Not just part of the IT team

Clearly anyone with a master’s in business analytics could find themselves with a seat in the boardroom or on the executive team, contributing to improving how their employer operates and grows. This means they can also command higher salaries.

However, even young graduates in this field will find it is a technical profession that is no longer confined to the IT department. They may spend all or some of their working day collaborating with finance, research and development, sales, or marketing departments. There are also exciting job opportunities to work for agencies that specialize in data analysis for niche or general business categories, or business growth consultancies.

In addition, you could consider becoming a freelance business analyst, providing a business growth service to small or medium-sized enterprises. This is often dependent on having relevant experience, as well as the qualifications needed to be a trusted business analyst.

What sort of projects would a business analyst manage?

Whether they are self-employed, work for a data analysis agency or are part of an in-house team of business analysts, professionals in this field are often problem-solvers and innovators.

They may be tasked with a wide range of tasks, such as:

  • Using modeling techniques and research, to design the best ways to gather and interpret relevant data.
  • Growing their own commercial awareness, to help frame data solutions.
  • Partnering with senior personnel to pin down and explore business objectives, before proposing solutions that meet those goals, to produce the best outcomes.
  • Presenting projects and outcomes to sections of the workforce, to secure their engagement and compliance.
  • Contributing to sourcing, commissioning, and installing new technology and systems to support data management.
  • Finding niche ways to generate valuable quantitative and qualitative data, that solves business problems, needs, and aims.
  • Managing project teams, to achieve business objectives using data management and analysis.
  • Creating robust cybersecurity systems, and other vital data control measures.
  • Helping to train other staff in data handling, input and use.
  • Overseeing changes and improvements, to assess whether business needs and goals have been met.

From this list, it’s clear that the personal and professional attributes needed to start a career in business analytics include time management, communication and problem-solving skills, as well as a high degree of competence in IT.

Tools used by business analysts

There is a defined set of skills needed by business analytics professionals, some of the techniques universally used to interpret and apply data effectively include:

Data management software

As you would imagine, software that enables data extraction, loading, visualization, and transformation is high on the list of things used in this field of data science. As this is such a massive growth sector, business analyst software is constantly improving in variety and scope, including specialized software to manage projects, track data and engineer decision models.

Data warehouses

Cloud data warehouses, which are also known as enterprise data warehouses (EDW), can also be vital. These offer a secure way to store data from multiple sources, including historic and real-time digital information. It can then be sorted and interpreted either to address ad hoc management queries, or for long-term planning and decision-making purposes.

CRM systems

As marketing business intelligence is often what is required from a data analyst, professionals in this field may work with customer relationship management (CRM) software and systems. This technology, which is often customized to each organization, tracks customer information. This can be used to map behaviors and preferences or to automate interactions between the organization and its target audience.

Natural language processing (NLP)

This is linked to the use of artificial intelligence to automate many of the processes used in modern industry and commerce. To simplify what is a highly complex topic, NLP involves creating the sort of input that computers can properly utilize, in a meaningful and useful way. The outcome is human language, which underpins developments such as chatbots, search functions and voice assistance.

Machines can’t replace qualified humans

When you explore amazing industries that have changed the world, artificial intelligence, and its uses to control automation and robotics, ranks highly. That would make it easy to believe the dire prophecies of literature and movies, that machines are largely replacing humans.

The truth is that business growth and success are not entirely technology dependent, as there is still a pressing need for people with the ability to develop and optimize that technology. This includes business analytics graduates, who can apply data to meet current and future business needs.

Mike McNicholas
Mike McNicholas creates innovative experience solutions for its readers.

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