Business Analytics Careers

Wake Forest University’s online Master’s in Business Analytics (MSBA) degree provides students with the skills needed to be successful in today’s business climate and the foresight to be innovators in shaping what’s to come in the future. Professionals not only need to know the ins and outs of Big Data, but also how to utilize its structured and unstructured forms to identify insights that improve company strategy and contribute to product development. Due to these factors, demand for business analytics professionals has soared over the past few years. In fact, Wake Forest MSBA graduates have gone on to earn a wide array of positions across organizations, including Manager, Enterprise Data, Chief Analytics Officer, Director, Customer Success, Data Analyst, Senior Materials Planner, AVP Quantitative Services, Staff Cloud Engineer, Manager, Decision Sciences, Analytics Consultant, Senior Decision Scientist, Sr. Director, Enterprise Analytics, Manager, Data & Analytics, Senior Data Analyst, Manager, People Analytics, Sr. Manager, Data Strategy & Analytics, Sr. Financial Credit Risk Analytics Manager, Vice President, Fleet Operations, Senior Manager, Credit Review, Assistant Athletic Director, Analytics & Development, Managing Director & COO, and Financial Analyst.

Why Companies Need Business Analytics Professionals

Based on The Quant Crush survey conducted by IBM in 2017, the number of jobs for data professionals is expected to grow by several million openings across the 2020’s. The Bureau of Labor Statistics echoes these predictions: for Operations Research Analysts, employers will have 26-percent more openings by 2028, with more positions requiring a master’s degree.

Professionals have traditionally entered this path through business, management, operations research, mathematics, computer science, or a similar technical role. Nevertheless, the phenomenon of Big Data has transformed the amount of information available to businesses, and over the past decade, technological advances have produced tools that improve its analysis and extraction. Today, devices from smartphones and tablets to the Internet of Things and social media have created an insurmountable amount of raw data, all of which can be analyzed for patterns in customer behavior to add new products, change site experiences, and address common complaints.

While much of this seems like a potential goldmine for customer service, operations, and product development, much of Big Data’s growth involves its unstructured side—created by human input, not organized by default, and coded with keywords and metadata. Considering the rate new content is created, no professional can manually comb through everything. Instead, algorithms, machine learning, and specialized software programs assist with its organization and analysis. A business analytics professional, in this scenario, needs to not only understand how to use these tools, but further needs to know how to effectively communicate their findings to management and their non-technical coworkers. Their research then becomes a keystone for how a business decides to diversify or update its services.

Companies acknowledge this shift, and according to New Vantage Partners’ “Big Data and AI Executive Survey 2019,” 92 percent of all responding C-Level Fortune 1000 executives mentioned that they plan to invest more in Big Data and artificial intelligence (AI) to stay ahead of their competitors and gain footing in today’s global, digital marketplace. Yet, while respondents said they understand the technologies’ importance, implementation ran into a few snags. 77 percent encountered hurdles when attempting to use this information, and just 31 percent claimed to have successfully found a solution that works for them.

Key Skills and Competencies for a Business Analytics Career

The missing component in these setups is a skilled business analytics professional who not only understands the technologies but also has the business acumen to communicate and apply their findings. Essentially, professionals with business analytics knowledge become the missing link between accurately utilizing Big Data and crafting targeted, informed business decisions.

Within this broad framework, individuals interested in a business analytics career need to:

  • know how to collect, analyze, and store data, particularly within the context of improving company efficiency and revenue;
  • understand how to design algorithms and mathematical modeling to gain actionable insights from large amounts of structured and unstructured data;
  • have an interest and background in math, statistics, and programming, as positions involve a significant amount of coding to process, manipulate, and organize data and create predictions;
  • not only understand machine learning but keep up with its evolution, especially where predictive modeling and segmentation are concerned; and
  • have strong written and oral communication and data visualization skills, in order to be able to influence decision-making with their findings.

Business Analytics Career Options

A wide swath of industries requires business analytics professionals. Individuals with these skills are positioned for roles as a:

  • Management Analyst/Consultant: Professionals work independently, partnering temporarily with large firms to implement or improve their business analytics strategy.
  • Business Intelligence (BI) Analyst: BI analysts assume a higher-level role within an organization, often examining how business analytics are applied to utilize Big Data and conducting research that goes on to shape company strategies.
  • Market Research Analyst: Market research is seldom based strictly on consumer surveys and test groups. Today, market research analysts utilize Big Data and machine learning to examine customer behavior and base campaigns around these habits.
  • Predictive Analytics: Professionals take historical data and examine it via statistical algorithms and machine learning technologies to come to a conclusion about future behavior or outcomes.
  • Big Data Analytics Specialist: Data analytics specialists don’t just examine numbers for patterns—they look for trends and conclusions, particularly where they could solve a problem or answer a question for a business.
  • Data Analyst/Scientist: These two distinct roles work in tandem. Data analysts have the technical know-how and business acumen to assess large sets of data, while data scientists are often utilizing that information for investigations and developing new products or services.
  • Program and Marketing Managers: Big Data is becoming more and more integral to how marketing departments orchestrate traditional and digital campaigns. As such, professionals seeking these higher-level roles need to not only understand the tools and technologies, but to also utilize them to conduct research and support their assertions.
  • Operations Research Analyst: In addition to focusing on their own products and services, businesses utilize Big Data’s insights to improve their internal processes. Operations research analysts devote their time toward developing solutions for streamlining these in-house processes.
  • Business Intelligence (BI) and Performance Management (PM) Consultants: Especially if a company is in the early stages of implementing a data analysis solution, outside BI and PM consultants can assist with effective implementation in line with an organization’s strategy or industry trends.
  • Pricing and Revenue Optimization Analyst: Sales don’t just make themselves. Instead, all types of industries and business models can use Big Data to shape their pricing strategies based on industry competition and discover new ways to increase revenue.

Consider a Career in Business Analytics

If you majored in math, statistics, or computer science, or otherwise currently use business analytics in your job, prepare yourself for an in-demand career with Wake Forest University’s Online Master of Science in Business Analytics degree. To learn more about this program, request additional information today.