When we think of an analyst career, we usually think it means being behind a computer all day, crunching numbers, and processing data for big tech companies. But business analysis is far more than that. The job of data analyst is actually one of the most exciting careers out there right now for anyone with a passion for business and using data to find solutions. This is a career that puts you at the forefront of a company’s operational strategy, making this an indispensable role in any modern business.
So what exactly does a business analyst do? And what are the attributes of a successful analyst? This article will discuss the key points of becoming a business analyst and what it takes to be successful in the business analysis field.
What is a business analyst?
A business analyst plays a key role in any modern company’s business operations. They are responsible for analyzing business data, extracting actionable insights from this information, and using this to suggest improvements and innovative solutions. Often a business analyst will be tasked with solving existing problems in a company’s organization and operations, but most of the time their job is to consistently review and find ways to improve business strategy.
The kind of data a business analyst researches can depend on the nature of the company, but most often it includes data relating to important metrics such as sales, transactions, and performance. Business analysts must also interpret data and present it in ways that are comprehensible and logical to stakeholders and other business professionals.
So clearly there is more to a business analyst role than just reviewing data and metrics. A business analyst role requires a broad range of both technical and soft skills, both of which are important for any analyst hoping to use their skills in a business environment. Now, let’s look at what exactly those skills are, and how you can use them to become a successful business analyst.
Skills of a successful business analyst
Any good business analyst must have the technical skills needed for working with data, as well as the soft skills required for communicating insights and suggestions with stakeholders.
First and foremost, a business analyst must be proficient in analytics tools and software. It helps to have experience with computer programming as well as business administration in order to bridge the gap between business and data —a key part of this role. While the ability to program isn’t always necessary for a business analyst, having a working knowledge of the most common analytics tools will be invaluable to you in a BA job. These include Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, Tableau, Google Analytics, and SQL.
There’s more to business analysis than just looking at data and crunching numbers. A business analyst must also be able to articulate their insights clearly and then communicate their findings and recommendations to stakeholders and any other professional involved in the business. This takes strong communications skills, as business analysts are expected to present even the most complex findings in clear and visually coherent ways. Communication is key to any business team, and a business analyst will be a central part of this.
An important aspect of business analytics is investigating problems in a company’s organizational structure and operations. It’s up to the business analyst to examine business data to find the source of issues and provide actionable insights to solve them. This requires a high level of problem-solving skills which are directly related to business analysis techniques. Paired with an analytical mindset and an understanding of business strategy, problem-solving skills form the foundation to become a business analyst.
Business analytics may not strike you as being a creative career path but having this skill certainly won’t go astray. As we’ve mentioned already, communicating and presenting insights from data is at the heart of a business analysis role, and creativity is essential to doing this successfully. Being able to present clear and striking data visualizations is the first step in communicating your findings and ideas to the rest of your team.
Analytics is only one side of a business analyst career. Having an in-depth knowledge of the organization and inner workings of a business is integral to a successful career as a BA. If you’re someone with a passion for data analytics and technical skill but now want to become a business analyst, there are business analyst courses offered by the IIBA which can help you come to grips with this side of a BA career. Those who expand their skill sets and education with a business analysis certification will be better able to market their business analyst skills. Additionally, anyone who has a computer programming or business-related undergraduate degree will already be a suitable candidate for a career as a business analyst.
Tips for becoming a business analyst
Let’s break down the basic steps to becoming a business analyst.
- Step 1: Earn a degree in business or another related field, e.g. finance, computer science, data science.
- Step 2: Complete an IIBA business analysis certification or similar qualification. Also, focus on building your knowledge of business analysis with supplementary courses. These can be helpful for filling in gaps in your knowledge and preparing you for a successful business analysis career.
- Step 3: Build up work experience in the business analyst industry. Whether you start out as an intern or go straight into an entry-level job, gaining business analysis experience will be invaluable to your career progression. Put yourself out there and market the skills and qualifications you gained in step 1 and step 2.
Business analysis is an exciting and dynamic career, and talented business analysts are in greater demand than ever due to the increased availability of data. The key skills for this career are technical proficiency, communication, problem-solving, creativity, and business sense. So if you have these skills, you could be on your way to becoming a business analyst.