Top 12 Skills For a Career in Business Analytics
August 02, 2022
Business analysts need a battery of hard skills to organize and crunch the data as well as complementary soft skills to convey their findings persuasively.
Success in any industry requires a combination of hard and soft skills that define competency and potential success. Both skill sets are carefully considered when companies look to hire new team members and strengthen their investment in personnel. That's certainly true in business analytics, where professionals need both technical skills to excel and people skills to communicate their findings.
Hard skills are easier to identify. They include training and certifications, computer and human languages, and job-related knowledge and abilities that indicate a solid skill set for employment. Employees acquire and develop these skills and credentials through education and work experience and polish them with on-the-job practice.
Soft skills are squishier and a little more difficult to nail down. They include the personal strengths that help people thrive in their jobs. Important skills in this category include organization, collaboration, and time management. These can come naturally to some people but can also be taught and practiced. Soft skills are more difficult to quantify, but they can be measured with performance scales, feedback, and other qualitative measures.
Top 12 business analytics skills
The hard skills for many jobs are industry-specific. In the competitive world of business analytics, a list of key skills unique to business analyst roles is used in hiring to outline some clear must-haves. Here's a list of technical skills that might be used to fill a position for a business analyst job.
A strong information technology background can be very helpful in a business analyst position for understanding databases and how to query data, \how systems communicate via software interfaces, and scaling systems to meet business requirements. This skill requires sharpening, so keeping up on IT should be an ongoing pursuit.
Statistical models and forecasting techniques are used for insight on big data and strategic financial planning. Budgeting, pricing, capital, and operational decisions are informed by mining and analyzing data from business processes to predict future performance and enhance profitability.
Effective data analysis helps companies improve products and services as well as business processes by cleansing, evaluating, and modeling data. Data analytics involves transforming raw data into meaningful statistical information with programs like Microsoft Excel and Tableau.
Fluency in statistical analysis and programming languages is critical in business analytics. Expert business analysts are proficient in Python, Scala, Java, SQL, and SAS.
In order to communicate data analysis findings to stakeholders and decision makers in business, analysts must have strong visual modeling skills and mastery of tools like Visio, Powerpoint, and Excel. This skill helps to communicate information internally and translates to strong marketing performance as well.
Business analysts use computer hardware and software systems to set up functions, enter and process data, and adapt programs for specific purposes, using Agile, Scrum, XP and other frameworks and methodologies.
Hard skills are essential to make it in business analytics, but interpersonal skills are also important Let's look at a list of soft skills listed under a business analyst job description.
Business analysts spend a great deal of time communicating with clients, executives, managers, and research teams. Good visual, verbal, and written communication skills impact business operations in planning and reporting to stakeholders, in customer service, and with internal project management.
Problem solving is at the heart of creating successful business solutions: identifying a current or potential problem, defining the scope, and outlining solutions define business analytics. Good problem solving skills lead to creative, collaborative, flexible and organized planning to meet business needs.
Decision making in business demonstrates clear thought and shows leadership and initiative. It also reflects positively on the data analysis and assessment of business problems and solutions, allowing confident action driven by a strong data-based foundation.
In creating business solutions, analysts must assess and probe challenges fully to find the path to the best outcome. Thorough assessment, exploration, and research lead to innovation and creative solutions.
Time management is really about good planning and organization. Short-term task planning and long-term project planning can help prevent rushed decisions and missed deadlines and allow for well-researched and thorough processes.
Negotiations in business analytics occurs among IT, clients, management, and stakeholders and involve a lot of personalities. Being able to remain focused and organized during negotiations in professional relationships demonstrates strong leadership, the gift of persuasion, and attention to detail.
Develop business analytics skills in a master's program
Employers seek skilled analysts. The 2021 SkillSoft global knowledge skills and salary reportasked IT decision makers how hard it was to fill vacant spots; 54 percent indicated they had trouble filling at least one position, and 38 percent said they had at least three vacancies they couldn't fill. Why? According to the report: "There simply aren't enough qualified candidates."
A great way to hone your hard and soft skills for a position as a business analyst is to pursue a master's degree. These programs (which typically take one to two years to complete) build on your bachelor's degree and years of experience to focus your skill set.
Master's programs for business analytics vary in their focus. Many offer online programs to accommodate the work schedules of students who continue working full-time while pursuing their master's degree. Students typically dedicate 15 to 20 hours a week to their graduate studies.
Butler University 's MS in Data Analytics program consists of two foundational skills courses, five core courses, and four concentration courses. Students in this online program take one seven-week course at a time. Core courses include work in data mining, visualization and storytelling, predictive modeling and decision making, data engineering, and text and image processing techniques.
At Stevens Institute of Technology, coursework include classes like Business Analytics, Data Models, and Decisions; Social Network Analytics, Cognitive Computing, Data Analytics and Machine Learning- a solid set of technical skills.
Elective options vary by program. Some schools are generous, others leave little room in the curriculum for choice. At Georgia Tech, students are given 15 elective credits to fill with coursework that addresses their career interests. Boston University allows for 9 to 12 elective credits, depending on a student's program duration, with topics including consumer insights, operations and supply chain analytics, pricing strategy and tactics, and applied data science.
Specializations are program specific, so you'll need to do some research to find the program that fits your goals best. For example, Butler University offers an online Master of Science degree in Data Analytics with two concentrations: Business Analytics and Healthcare Analytics.
Georgia Tech offers three areas of focus—Computational Data Analytics, Analytical Tools, and Business Analytics—with programs available in on-campus and online formats. Graduates can also earn a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) certification from the International Institute of Business Analysis with their years of training and work experience.
Top Master of Science in Business Analytics programs
Top online and on-campus Master of Science in Business Analytics include:
- Boston University
- Butler University
- Duke University
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Johns Hopkins University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Southern Methodist University
- Stevens Institute of Technology
- University of California at Los Angeles
- University of Maryland- College Park
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