The Difference Between Business Intelligence and Business Analyst Roles

It’s all about data these days and in this video, Laura Brandenburg explores the key differences between business intelligence and business analyst roles.

If you’re looking for a career that’s high in demand, has immense growth potential, and will ride the wave of data revolution, an opportunity in the business intelligence space might be for you.

In this video, you’ll learn:

  • The typical responsibilities one might expect with a business intelligence role
  • How a BI role differs from a traditional business analyst role
  • The difference between data analysis and data modeling
  • The technical skills required in business analytics and business intelligence

Whether you are just starting out or looking to make a career change, this video is a must-watch.

If you are interested in enhancing your data modeling skills, download our free data modeling training! This resource will teach you:

  • What data models you can use to clarify the data requirements
  • How to use data models on a variety of projects
  • How to understand new domains quickly
  • How to excel on system integration and data migration projects

 >> Download the Free Data Modeling Training <<

It is all about the data these days, and if you are looking for a career that’s in high demand, has immense growth potential and will ride the wave of this data revolution, we find ourselves on an opportunity in the business intelligence or BI space might be for you.

In this video, we are going to look at business analysis roles in business intelligence and analytics, including the key skills that you will need for success and how it differs from a more traditional business analyst role. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to make a career change, this video is a must watch.

Hi, I’m Laura Brandenburg with Bridging the Gap where we help you start, succeed, and excel in your business analyst career with weekly videos on business analysis, tips and techniques.

Two Main Ways the “Business Analyst” Job Title is Used

When it comes to job titles in the business analysis space, they can be confusing and deceiving. In particular, there are two primary ways that the business analyst job title is used.

The first is the role that literally bridges the gap between business and technology by ensuring that software solutions do what the business needs them to do and solves a real business problem. Often this role is seen as a technology or IT role. Sometimes it’s located within the business and is the role that collaborates with the technology team.

The second way that the business analyst job title is used is often for more of a business intelligence or analytics role that involves using data analysis and business intelligent tools to gain insights and make decisions. Often this role sits on the financial team, but it may be in marketing some aspect of business, or it might even be on an IT team, or you might have a company that has an entire business intelligence department within one of those larger umbrellas. And of course, as a business analyst, you could be filling both roles. This video is really going to be about the typical responsibilities in both of these roles; the skill sets you need to succeed, and how the rules differ and overlap.

Typical Responsibilities in Business Intelligence

The typical responsibilities in a business intelligence role involve collecting and analyzing data to identify trends and patterns. You’d be developing models that show patterns in the data. You might be identifying opportunities for growth and improvement or how to solve a specific business problem. You could be creating reports that summarize insights and inform business decisions and presenting those reports to leadership within your company, a project team, or a set of sponsors that are trying to make decisions about how to invest money in the company.

Clearly you could be in both roles. You could be using business analytic tools and techniques to identify problems and opportunities, and then you could be using business analysis tools and techniques to clarify and solve them.

One interesting project that I worked on was after the implementation of a major business intelligence platform. It turned out that the data wasn’t actually giving them the information they needed and so I worked with stakeholders to update their business processes and their proprietary software systems to capture the data that they needed for reporting. I think this example shows how these two roles flow together and how essential both can be.

Now to understand the difference between business intelligence roles and the more traditional business analyst roles you really need to understand the difference between data analysis and data modeling.

The Difference Between Data Analysis and Data Modeling

I have an entire video on the difference between data analysis and data modeling, so make sure to check that video out after you finish this one. Nevertheless, I want to speak to it briefly here because it’s just so relevant to this discussion.

Data analysis is the work that you do to analyze the data. It involves generating reports, analyzing those reports, mapping trends, like looking at huge quantities of data sets of things that have been happening in terms of business activity and customer activity, and analyzing and creating meaning from that data, the raw data, that’s been created.

Data modeling is the work you do to decide how information will be modeled and stored in an information system. You would answer questions like, what information do we need to store about our customer behavior or about this transaction, o about how the business completes this workflow? What field are we going to capture this information in?

In the context of setting up a business intelligence reporting system, you’ll determine what data sources are being fed into that centralized repository and how the information in those systems relate together. And again, there’s an overlap because without the data being stored and managed, you really can’t report on it to use it to make better business decisions.

That’s the scenario that my team had run into. They had this great business intelligence system, but it didn’t have the data that they needed, so we had to backtrack and figure out how to re-engineer their business process and their software to ensure we were capturing that data so they could use it to analyze it and make better business decisions.

It’s important to develop skills in both areas if you want to succeed in business intelligence.

If you are interested in enhancing your data modeling skills, we have a great resource for you. It’s our free data modeling training, and it’s going to teach you what data models you can use to clarify data requirements and how to use these on all kinds of projects, even system integration projects and data migration projects, which is really a business intelligence rollout.

A rollout of a business intelligence system often is both your migrating or integrating data into that system. The set of techniques that we cover in that free training would be relevant to you.

In a business intelligence rollout as well, even if you don’t know how to code, I like to stress that about data modeling. You don’t have to know how to code to know how to model data. You can claim this free training by clicking the link below.

 >> Download the Free Data Modeling Training <<

Technical Skills Required in Business Analytics and Business Intelligence

Let’s talk about the technical skills that are required in business analytics and business intelligence. If you want to take your career in that direction, you will need to have a more advanced technical skill set for a functional or process focused business analyst role.

At a minimum, you’re going to need very advanced skills in Excel to be able to create sophisticated reports and pivot tables and really leverage all the functionality available to you in Excel to take that data and make it consumable by other stakeholders in your organization. Often you will need to know how to use SQL so that you can generate reports directly against data sources and run those queries against the database.

It’s also likely that you are going to need to know the business intelligence tool in place in your organization. Common examples include Power BI and Tableau. You might see those coming up on job descriptions for a business analyst role that might be titled Business Analyst. That’s often a great indicator that it’s really a business intelligence analyst type of role. Those sorts of tools like Power BI and Tableau centralize data from multiple sources and help you generate those sophisticated reports that you can use as part of exploring business problems.

Business Acumen is Also Required

Now, business acumen is often also required. This is not just a technical role. You need that business acumen to know what questions to ask. How do I interpret this data to answer those questions? How do I present this data in a meaningful way to executives and other stakeholders to drive better decision making? It’s a technical role with still a business acumen focus.

Where Do You Want to Go With Your Career?

My question for you is, where do you want to go with your career? Business analytics, business intelligence, and more general business analyst rules all represent great career opportunities. Where you ultimately decide to go in your career will depend on the skills that you want to develop. Do you want to be more data focused and technical? Do you want to be part of ongoing decision making and prioritizing improvements? A career in business analytics or business intelligence could be a really good fit for you.

Do you want to be more process and functional focused, perhaps less technical, more collaborative than a career in business analysis doing process development and functional software requirements as well as modeling the data could be a great fit for you. Both are an option. These roles flow really well together, and no matter what you choose, you could find yourself doing work from the other role on a particular project or just at a particular time in your career. Either way, data modeling skills are going to be essential to your success as you can’t analyze data if you don’t understand how it’s structured. That’s why our free data modeling training is so valuable.

Expand Your Data Modeling Skills

You can sign up for that free training right now and discover the essential data modeling techniques that you can use to add more value, even if you don’t know how to code, by clicking the link below.

 >> Download the Free Data Modeling Training <<

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