The scope for Business Analytics today has expanded widely. Business Analytics today goes beyond just business intelligence (BI) and Market Research and there are deep-rooted applications for data analytics. In turn opportunities in careers have also grown - there is higher demand for data analysts and data scientists. These professions alone cannot replace the old school market analysts and business analyst; hence a combination of both is what is appreciated by companies, think tanks and corporate. Business analytics has become far more important today because of the constant market disruptions as a result of technology advancement and consequent changing behavior of consumers and customers. Business decision makers want short-term forecasts on trends which they can use for product development, marketing and sales. The reliance on large datasets about trends - internal and external to their organizations has increased dramatically and therefore they are looking for data analysts and scientists who can make sense of both structured and unstructured data.
Business Analytics is extremely technology driven, and it is essential to imbibe skill sets that can help one crunch large volumes of data to decipher meaningful insights and do predictive modeling. For example, how to predict business on the basis of consumer purchasing trends on an e-commerce site for over five years, or payment trends for a telecom operator having millions of subscribers.
My recommendation would be to get familiar with the distinction between analytics, intelligence, and analysis. These terms have a lot of overlap. For the uninitiated, business analysts use day to day business intelligence for a company's operations and provide insights to and liaison with key stakeholders across the corporate structure as well as the various execution teams. Market analysts typically work on understanding market trends, growth opportunities across segments and regions, competitive analysis to provide a comprehensive view on how industries are headed. Financial analysts go into detail into financial metrics of companies - its performance, profitability trends, and so on. They are extremely valuable in projects related to business planning and consulting. Equity analysts combine intelligence from market analysis as well as financial analysis to break down individual company performance, projections and accordingly recommend for investments.
Valuable Things to Know
There is no single degree or course that can be prescribed for this specialization. Several courses are now provided to specialize in business analytics with a focus on data science and predictive modeling. But based on my interactions with several company executives, they look for not just technical proficiency but contextual analysis. Without an understanding of the market, macroeconomic trends, looking at large volumes of data and analyzing them are not going to be useful. Therefore, they often look for a combination. For example, if one wants to learn and develop a career in corporate strategy, an MBA degree alongside data analytics specialization is useful. If one wants to pursue the profession as an analyst then economics and econometrics with a specialization in certain sector are quite useful.
Anyhow, students who want to pursue this industry are lucky today, because of the availability of several online, open-forums and even-structured courses on business analytics, and more importantly advanced tools. But to succeed in business analytics, one must have an intuitive curiosity to analyze patterns in data and investigate how they will emerge. Extensive reading on industries that one will work in is as important as acquiring a diploma or degree in business analytics to succeed.
Proper Training is the Key for all Students
Mr. Narayana Murthy was recently in news stating that 80 percent of Indian youngsters are not properly trained for any job. The point is you can never have a full-fledged specialization at graduation level for a majority of professions that are in practice today. It is too early at that level. So more than deep learning and competence, what recruiters look for include confidence, enterprise, strong communication skills, and ability to learn fast. Generally, graduates are not trained adequately to reflect these. If we can emphasize these in colleges through mass curriculum and new age teaching methods, we will be able to fill the gaps.
The trend of hiring students by the droves is fast declining. On the one hand, companies are looking to hire students who have super-specialization; and on the other, they are looking for a bright set of recruits who they can train. Hence logical reasoning, integrated learning, and communication - these are the skill sets that institutions need to prepare their students for. Sometimes we find it lacking even in high pedigree institutions. (As told to HER Team)
Vidya S Nath
With 12 years of experience in consulting, market intelligence, & advisory in the digital media domain, Vidya S Nath currently holds the position of Research Director at Frost & Sullivan. She worked with multinational clients on projects for opportunity assessment, marketing, competitive strategies, regional & product line expansion.