For decades – and indeed, for thousands of years in some form or another – business has ruled the world. Those who understood trade, economics and finance have always been well set up to succeed in the smallest village or the largest global economy.
Today, business is just as booming as it ever was, and presents just as much opportunity to those who love working in the challenging and fast-paced milieu of commerce. It’s not enough anymore simply to major in business, though; now you need to specialize. Before they hire you, all companies will ask several questions, including:
- What do you bring to the table that other candidates don’t?
- Where can you help us fill a hole in our current operations?
- Why will people listen to what you have to say?
If you can’t answer those questions, your job search will be much harder, no matter how impressive your degree. However, rather than beating your brains out coming up with good answers to interview questions, you can make your life a whole lot easier simply by picking a major that’s in high demand. Do that, and the questions answer themselves.
What subject is that, you wonder? Business analytics is a good one.
What Is Business Analytics?
Business analytics is the process of identifying where companies could do better, and how to get there, using data. As Harvard Business School explains, business analytics professionals “analyze what a business needs to function optimally and what it needs to improve, and then work to implement solutions. This may include improving processes, changing policies or introducing new technology.”
While this is often confused with data analytics, the two careers are not the same. The latter is more focused on transforming raw data into usable information. While this plays a significant role in a business analyst’s decisions, and while business analysts do need a solid command of data, the business side is more of a bird’s eye view.
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This is an introduction to business analytics by Cory Baldwin.
There are several good reasons to major or degree in business analytics. Here are 10 of the most important.
1. You Love Numbers
First and foremost, if you want to be a business analytics worker, you better like numbers. These professionals base much of their recommendations and reporting on cold, hard facts … so if you can’t wrap your head around numbers, steer clear.
2. You’re Not Scared of Data
It’s not just numbers, either: It’s data. You need the ability to look through vast rafts of pure data and draw meaningful conclusions about the moves a business should make. That’s not to say this data is raw, since it’s probably been cleaned up and made presentable by data analysts. However, it is still dense and extensive, so you better not be scared of it.
3. You Can Identify Patterns Well
Business analytics is all about using that data to identify patterns and make use of them. If your brain often picks out patterns from information that others consider random, you will do well in this career. The good news is, a business analytics major comprises many courses that will teach you to recognize patterns (discussed below).
4. You Enjoy Leadership Roles
As a business analyst, many people will turn to you for insight and guidance. It’s a big responsibility, telling a whole company what to do to increase its bottom line or develop new products or partner with others. If you enjoy the attention and respect you’ll command, you will do well. If you prefer to stay out of the limelight, you might be better suited as a data analyst.
5. You Like Computers
A business analytics professional does more than simply analyze business using written reports or instinct. They rely heavily on numbers, extracted from raw data by algorithms or programs, some of which they may get from others, and some of which they may write themselves. For that reason, most business analytics majors can expect to take courses in computer science, data science, machine learning, programming or software engineering – all of which will enhance your pattern recognition abilities as well.
6. You Want to Work with Others
Again, this is a public role with leadership demands. If you love working with others, then it’s ideal for you. You will interact with people on a daily basis, consulting on decisions, explaining what the data means, and making and modifying courses of action. That means …
7. You’re a Great Communicator
If you speak and write well, you have the seeds of a great business analyst. Remember that this role involves transmitting information from data analysts and knowledge workers to decision makers and top brass. That means you have to be able to encapsulate big ideas and explain them in ways that non-experts can understand.
8. You Can Think Both Big AND Small
Business analysis is tricky, because you need both minute organizational skills and the ability to manage small details, but must simultaneously think through patterns and decisions on a company-wide scale. Some people don’t have the ability to stretch in either direction, but rather lean toward one end or another. If you can manage the whole spectrum, you will be happy in the role.
9. You Like Job Opportunity
By some estimates, “The US alone has a shortage of about 190,000 data scientists and 1.5 million business analysts. Globally and in the US, companies need experts in business analytics. High demand means higher salaries, and a variety of options.” With the rate of data only increasing, these jobs are not likely to go away any time soon.
10. You Want to Pay Back Those Loans
Because business analysts can take on a variety of more specific roles in their institutions, it’s hard to say for sure exactly what their salary potential is. However, management analysts stand to make on average $83,610 per year or $40.20 per hour, with job rates growing at an impressive 14 percent every year. Computer systems analysts, which focus on ensuring that the computer side of operations is as efficient as possible, make an average of $88,740 per year or $42.66 per hour. Their jobs are growing at an average rate of about 9 percent.
These are just two examples of salaries you can command with only a bachelor’s degree, at the midpoint of your career. If you add additional specialties or later get a master’s degree in business analytics, these numbers increase significantly – as does your ability to pay back your loans in a timely fashion. That alone is a good reason to major in business analytics.