What Is A Business Intelligence Data Analyst?
The Business Intelligence (BI) Data Analyst works directly with business stakeholders to create data-based solutions that analyze performance and optimize operations. Business users in ALL industries depend on the Business Intelligence team for accurate and timely information that helps drive the overall success of the company and allows for more informed financial and operational decision-making.
What Do You Do?
As a Business Intelligence Data Analyst, I interact with departments ranging from Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Claims, Marketing, and HR to Legal, company stakeholders (CEO’s, CFO’s), and the like.
I work in the homeowner’s insurance industry with 4+ years of experience.
This week I ran production support for the Business Intelligence team. My main responsibility was to handle the day-to-day business operations for the company, mostly in the form of creating ad hoc reports for end users, and responding to on-demand user errors or requests.
Our team has recently shifted to a cyclical approach for handling end-user requests. Whenever a new request is submitted, my job as Production Support is to apply the appropriate labeling to those tasks so they can be included in future cycles. Additionally, I’m responsible for handling small ad hoc requests. Below is a link to a helpful Adobe article that provides more details about what ad hoc requests are, and why they are important.
How Do You Create Ad Hoc Reports?
In my role, data for ad hoc reporting is queried and generated using DBeaver. DBeaver is a database tool for developers, database administrators, and analysts. Much of the coding I use in this interface is SQL, but the tool allows for multiple database types, such as PostgreSQL, MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, and NoSQL. If none of this sounds familiar, that’s okay! I encourage you to check out the resource below and explore it for yourself.
DBeaver - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DBeaver
What Other Tools Do You Use?
I spent a lot of time this week working with Pentaho Report Designer and Pentaho Data Integration.
Simply put, you'd use Pentaho Data Integration to create a data model from two different sources that generally aren’t compatible. From there, you import the data integration file into Pentaho Report Designer, and you're able to create and set up recurring reports.
Report Designer and Data Integration are not quick or easy tools quick to learn, but they are very powerful tools and I encourage all Data Analysts to become familiar with the applications.
Our team has an automated process that then uploads these files to Microsoft SharePoint, which is a cloud-based file-sharing resource. This allows external users in various departments to freely review the reports on a daily, weekly, or monthly bases.
Below are links for additional information regarding Report Designer and Sharepoint.
Pentaho Report Designer - https://help.hitachivantara.com/Documentation/Pentaho/8.2/Products/Report_Designer
Pentaho Data Integration - https://help.hitachivantara.com/Documentation/Pentaho/7.0/0D0/Pentaho_Data_Integration
Microsoft SharePoint - https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/sharepoint/collaboration
What Challenges Do You Face?
One of the most difficult parts of running production support was staying on top of the tasks. There are times when you get inundated with a lot of requests and you ultimately have to develop a system that works for you so you can address issues in a timely manner.
You’ll also come across issues where a report was running correctly for years and seemingly “broke” as end users describe it. Oftentimes, the query was not one that you developed so it’s tough to pinpoint exactly what failed.
Additionally, combing through lines and lines of inner joins and conditional statements can be a lot, but it gets easier with time.
The biggest challenge I faced as a recent analyst was simply figuring out where to start. Oftentimes I’ve found the tasks I deemed simple were complex, and the tasks I thought I needed help with were easily resolved when I broke the issue down.
The job is not easy, but the satisfaction is worth it in the grand scheme of things.
Before you begin this journey, be sure to understand your “Why.” If you’re doing it for the money, you’ll lack the motivation and self-drive that’s needed to be successful in this industry.
Do You Have Any Helpful Tips?
The biggest piece of advice I can give to any current or aspiring Data Analyst is don’t be afraid to ask questions!
When I first started my role, I made the effort to reach out to my team members individually and chat for 15 or so minutes to get to know each other. This proactive approach allowed me to develop better relationships with my team members and learn best practices on a more personal level.
If that’s not an option for you, YouTube is the best place to learn and grow. I’ve provided a link to more information about the Business Intelligence Data Analyst role, but the work starts with YOU!
How to Become a Business Intelligence Data Analyst - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26GlYvcYZiI
What Should You Do Next?
If you haven't heard of any of the software that I've used, comment below which one you’ll start getting experience with. I also encourage you to comment on which software you're most excited to learn and what your plan is.
I’d then encourage you to create a LinkedIn profile and begin following those that are already in your desired field. There is A TON of free information on LinkedIn from people that started in the very place you’re at now. Below is a link to one of my favorite LinkedIn profiles when it comes to Data Analytics.
Not only does LinkedIn provide valuable information, but having a powerful network of like-minded thinkers will open so many new opportunities and relationships for you. These can become extremely beneficial when it comes time to get your foot in the door.
LinkedIn Data Analyst Profile - https://www.linkedin.com/in/uwellington-data-analyst
In next week's post, I’ll dig a lot more into my background and how I made the transition to Business Intelligence Data Analyst. My goal is to help as many people as I can transition into this awesome and rewarding industry. If there are any specific questions you have, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below!