what does a business analyst do

What Does a Business Analyst Do? How to Become a Successful Analyst

Today, data drives the market. Business analysts use this data to facilitate business decisions. However, the relative newness of this career option gives rise to several questions, the most important being: what does a business analyst do?

Despite performing functions similar to a data analyst, these are two distinct roles with distinct responsibilities. Data analytics has analysis at its core, whereas business analytics is more contextual. A traditional data analytics approach refers to the process of analyzing massive amounts of data to provide a foundation for the future. Business analytics look to the past too. They identify patterns using prebuilt business tools, and historically available data to inform the present business strategy. They provide a narrower focus on charting the growth of a business and are now in demand across industries and businesses as the amount of data available continues to grow and evolve. 

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What is Business Analytics?

Business analytics further follow three methods to gain data-driven insights and make efficient business decisions. These methods are:

  1. Descriptive Analytics: This method informs businesses about what has already happened
  2. Predictive Analytics: This method helps businesses with possible solutions for the future
  3. Prescriptive Analytics: This method tells businesses the right path to surviving the future

Business analysts combine these methods to create a comprehensive structure for decision-making and acting upon available information and resources. Learn more about business analytics.

Simultaneous to limitless data production, businesses are also anxious to employ this data for maximum business advantage. This means a greater demand for business analysts – occupations associated with business and financial operations is expected to grow 8.4% by 2024. Simply put, business analysts are drivers of growth and efficiency in an organization. A quick study and even quicker response to changing market conditions are the most crucial responsibilities shouldered by business analysts. 

Business Analysts are pivotal for the success of an organization, and they perform multiple key functions.

What Does a Business Analyst Do?

In weathering the storm of constant disruptions, business analysts help businesses remain rooted in their path to maximum effectiveness. This may seem like a straightforward process,  but it is far more nuanced. As business patterns emerge, they respond to available data. Business analysts further this process by deriving meaningful insights, identifying data that improve business performance, and introducing practices to maximize value for all stakeholders.

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Business analysts also ease the process of digital transformation for many businesses. They navigate through the complexities of the transformations by creating a strategic path for digital growth. In addition, they bridge the gap between business and IT by evaluating technological requirements and inviting tech-led, data-driven solutions. 

Do Small Companies Need Business Analysts?

To survive and succeed in an economy ruled by digital disruptions, businesses must equip themselves to leverage data for the most effective business solutions. Business analysts provide guidance and direction, track and test changing market conditions, and use resources to best realize business goals. 

Business analysts are also the glue that holds businesses of all sizes together. They inspire change within organizations to keep them at par with the disruptions taking place rapidly all around them. Agility in handling data, interpretation, and analysis, combined with excellent business acumen are necessities for business analysts. Business analysts are solution-oriented, focus on cost reduction, and optimize consistent business growth. The growing dependence on business analysts by numerous organizations across the world today is no surprise, nor is it a practice that could diminish any time soon. 

Key Responsibilities of a Business Analyst

What does a business analyst do? Here’s a checklist of some responsibilities they have in their day-to-day:

  • Identifying the business needs and requirements and offering lucrative solutions that can benefit the business as a whole
  • Collaborating with developmental teams to design specific solutions to a business concern
  • Analyzing present data models
  • Consistently work to deliver value for all stakeholders
  • Build data visualizations to track all project findings
  • Undertaking a wide range of responsibilities that contribute to better decision making

Top 5 Business Analyst Skills

While responsibilities of business analysts vary from business to business and are deeply affected by changing market conditions. As the business landscape evolves, as will the role of a business analyst. However, some skills will provide a steady foundation for business analysts. Below are a few skills all business analysts must have to capably perform in roles.

1. Data Collection

Collecting and managing data carefully is the crux of business analysis. Strong knowledge of various data collection methods is essential.

2. Data Visualization

Once the data is collected and processed, it must be broken down into numbers and patterns for easy interpretation to help everyone in the organization uncover insights.

3. Technical skills

To inform business decisions and practices, business analysts must possess technical and technological expertise. Awareness of technical developments along with the ability to learn them and gauge their utility for the business is a crucial skill for business analysts.

4. Analytical skills

Keeping abreast of changing needs of the stakeholders and consistently analyzing available data is an important prerequisite for business analysts.

5. Managerial skills

While data is at the core of business analysts’ work, directing and managing various teams within a business, communicating common goals, monitoring market trends, and keeping track of progress are necessary managerial skills. 

Business Analysts vs Data AnalystsMan leading a project

Both business analysts and data analysts work closely with data. Their goals within an organization are also quite similar – to help improve business decisions. However, their approach to data as well as their treatment of it is distinct from one another. 

Data analysts gather, curate, analyze, visualize and utilize existing data to inform business decisions. Data analysts empower the decisions an organization makes. 

Business analysts use the data to identify the business’ concerns, address them, and offer solutions for them. Also, they look for growth opportunities and develop business strategies using the available data.

Business and data analysts also differ in skillsets. Data analysts require skills like statistical analysis, knowledge of data structures, and statistical programming. Whereas business analysts utilize skills like prototyping, problem-solving, understanding business structures, SQL, and also software design tools. 

Career Outlook for Business Analysts

According to the BLS, opportunities for management analysts are expected to grow by 14% by 2030. Business analysts are the need of the hour. To leverage the massive digital transformation, businesses must seek help from business analysts to help them navigate the market. Additionally, this is the case for all industries. Therefore, the demand for business analysts seems to be steadily growing. A strong educational background, combined with relevant skills can present a host of opportunities to business analysts. Along with the great potential for growth and stability in their careers, business analysts can also expect highly competitive salaries. 

The field of business analysis is evolving rapidly. Businesses are striving to get ahead of the competition. However, when digital disruptions are taking place, it can lead to some instability. To avoid this, and to continue to function progressively, businesses in all industries are relying heavily on business analysts.

What Tools Does a Business Analyst Use?

Business analysis tools help analysts better collect, interpret, and analyze data. These tools also help business analysts collaborate with various stakeholders and teams in the organization, as well as keep track of their progress. Tools for project management, business analysis, and business modeling can assist business analysts greatly. 

To know more about business analysis tools and gain the right skills for a data analyst, you can explore business analytics courses on Emeritus.

By Juilee Kamble 

Write to us at content@emeritus.org

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