Frequently Asked Questions about Business Intelligence
Business intelligence, or BI, is the application of data analysis techniques to business information, with a goal of extracting insights about company performance. BI tools can produce business analytics that reveal patterns in historical and current data as well as predictive modeling to peer into the future. In today’s incredibly complex business world, these insights are increasingly important for helping companies navigate everyday problem solving challenges and make informed long-term strategic management decisions.
As part of the larger field of data science, business intelligence requires data infrastructure. This may be as simple as programming in Microsoft Excel, but more sophisticated approaches to business intelligence may harness a relational database management system (RDBMS) such as MySQL as well as data analysis in Python or R. And, because conveying insights quickly and clearly is key to business intelligence, this approach often uses data visualization programs such as Tableau to create compelling graphs or useful dashboards to display key business metrics in real time.
Business intelligence is a key area of expertise for many management analysts and consultants, since data-driven insights and analytics are increasingly essential for convincing decision-makers to accept recommendations for organizational or operational changes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this highly-compensated field are expected to grow much faster than average as more and more companies seek to gain a competitive edge by hiring these experts in business intelligence.
Business intelligence analysts use data to help businesses navigate decisions. Once you have the necessary skills, there are several paths you can take to become one. Read our article about how to become a business intelligence analyst to learn more.
Certainly. Coursera has a wealth of opportunities to learn remotely about business as well as data science, and business intelligence lies squarely at the intersection of these two disciplines. You can take individual courses as well as multi-course Specializations in business intelligence and related topics offered by top-ranked institutions such as the University of Colorado, the University of Pennsylvania, and Duke University. And, if you want to dive even deeper into the use of data for business, can even pursue a professional certification in data science from IBM.
Regardless of your needs, the ability to view course materials and complete assignments on a flexible schedule makes learning online with Coursera a great fit for mid-career business professionals looking to upgrade their skill set.
To learn business intelligence (BI), you might need prior knowledge of data storage and data warehousing as well as earlier work experience as a data analyst or data scientist. You might be able to leverage a business or financial internship into learning about business intelligence if you also have strong computer programming language skills and data architecture knowledge. Management consultancy work is also a solid experience to have before learning business intelligence, as you can gain insights into various types of data, industry classifications, and analytics models with visualization tools. BI also involves the analysis of business geographic information, competition intensity, industry trend, and value chain analysis, so gaining experience in any of these areas through online courses, college classes, or work experience can bring you closer to learning about business intelligence.
Business intelligence analysts use data to help businesses navigate decisions. Once you have the necessary skills, there are several paths you can take to become a business intelligence analyst.
The kind of people who are best suited for work that involves business intelligence are often college grads who have completed degrees in engineering, data science, business administration, information systems, or related studies to gain insights into organizational operations and modern business processes. Data professionals working in business intelligence are generally sharp with details, with a keen sense of business operations, and they may possess strong leadership abilities as a result of their role of overseeing business operations data. The people leading BI projects are likely to be technology-focused, analytical, and have substantial knowledge of a company’s technological aspects and business conditions.
Business intelligence may be the right fit for you if you have a well-rounded background in information technology, business, and data knowledge. You might need to have additional hard skills like programming, data modeling, and statistics, combined with excellent communication, analytical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Learning business intelligence takes time. The experience gained in internships, work roles, and online courses can help you understand the nuances of how data, technology, and business operations intersect in an organization. If that interests you and you want to gain a foothold in an emerging area, learning business intelligence may be a smart, advancing step for you to take.
This FAQ content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.