The foremost business analytics skills that any analyst needs are, of course, an ability to analysis, interpret and model data.
Those who graduate with a master’s degree in business will have learned those skills by the time they earn their degree. But the need for expertise goes beyond analyzing data and extrapolating actionable information from large datasets.
To truly succeed, business analysts also need other knowledge and so-called “soft skills.” The following are some of those key areas that can propel a business analyst into the upper reaches of their profession.
They also can make master’s program graduates much more attractive candidates for promotion to the best jobs.
One of most important skill areas for business analysts is not technical. It involves an understanding of both the foundational elements of business and the economic drivers in specific industries. Beyond understanding the industry they work in, business analysts also need to understand the business model and strategies of their specific company in both the long and short term. All this supports an analyst’s efforts to measure key performance metrics for strategy, tactics and routine operations.
One of the key aspects of a business analyst’s job is to communicate findings from data in such a way that non-technical people can use the information to make business decisions. Data visualization skills obviously are key in this area. But business analysts also must have the ability to run meetings, ask the right questions of executives and practice good listening skills. This extends also to virtual communications through messaging, email and video conferences.
In many cases, business analysts are presented a challenge and then given the time to work out answers on their own. That typically includes analysis of different options and potential outcomes based on a variety of strategies, and then recommending the best course of action. Analysts must have excellent critical-thinking skills to determine the right course of research and the final recommendation. Working as a business analyst is not a profession where one simply connects point A to B. Instead, an analyst must determine what points A and B really are and determine the best path between the two.
Challenges always arise in business analysis. By their very nature, projects involving analytics are undertaken to solve problems. But along the way, other issues will arise, from technical challenges to keeping everyone on the same page in terms of project goals, scope, deadlines and cost. Doing so often involves people from various departments and levels of an organization, which is where exceptional communication, listening and business skills can really come into play.
Organizational politics play a role in almost every job, none more so than in business analytics. The very issue of deciding where to focus analytics efforts is often fraught with political facets. In some cases, analysts will find themselves in “siloed” offices where information has not been shared between departments in the past, and some are reluctant to do so. Having a keen understanding of these issues, as well as the dynamics of organizational politics, provides much needed support for an analyst’s efforts.
Skills in the above areas, coupled with expert-level knowledge in technical aspects of business analysis, can propel your career to the highest levels. While many focus simply on the technical side of the job, soft skills and business knowledge can prove just as critical to success in the real business world.