Saint Joseph's University

What Is Business Intelligence – and Why Does It Matter?

Every time you eat at a restaurant chain, they use it. When you shop at the grocery store, they gather it. When you buy a shirt at your favorite clothing store, they’re collecting it. Even some professional sports teams attribute part of their success to it.

The “it” is raw data, and today companies are collecting everything from consumers’ behavioral data (such as shopping likes and dislikes) to company performance. The data can help identify such things as inefficient restaurant processes or unreliable vendors, and some professional sports teams even analyze data to determine which players to pick.

Often referred to as “big data,” these large volumes of data collected by businesses are incorporated into every day needs in order to be organized and help them make sense of it all – and also to benefit from its collection. To analyze that data, they depend up business intelligence, or BI.

BI comprises various software applications used to organize raw data, which allows companies to perform data mining, run queries on the data collected, and create data-specific reports. It helps companies understand its clients better and lets them see what products sell well and those that don’t. It also allows companies to do a deep dive into the data and compare what and why some of its stores are performing better than others, and see how improvements can be made.

Why Is BI Relevant?

Gathering the data is only one piece of making companies more efficient. They then need to get the data organized so it can be useful for both improving the consumer experience in the way of loyalty programs or product offerings or so they can be able to streamline processes, sales, and future growth. By extrapolating specific information from all of the data collected, BI software applications enable a business to make decisions that can be validated by hard data instead of making guesses or best-case/worst-case projections.

According to the business site, “Good BI systems need to give context . . . and explain what factors influencing the business caused sales to be X one day and Y on the same date the previous year.” To increase accuracy on the consumer side, the data has to be collected in a way where the consumer wants to give certain information instead of feeling like it is invasive.

Finding New Career Opportunities in BI

Big data collection is only growing as more companies use it both for internal performance and to be more competitive on the open market. By 2018, American companies will be facing a shortage of between 140,000 and 190,000 professionals with the analytical and quantitative skills needed to turn heaps of raw data into profitable predictions, according to research. Furthermore, the shortage of big data professionals who can apply analytical expertise to making business decisions is facing an even bigger deficit, with the shortfall projected to be as high as 1.5 million people.

Even though big data and BI are in the information technology (IT) field, not everyone in IT is qualified for BI careers. BI requires more math analysis instead of coding skills, as well as technical skills in software platforms and an understanding of how to mine raw data and then accurately analyze it. For those who have such skills and interest, the field is filled with possibilities, and a master’s degree in Business Intelligence & Analytics from Saint Joseph’s University can help open the door to your successful career. With the BI field growing, getting your graduate degree in Business Intelligence will enable you to find great job prospects. For more information on getting your business intelligence degree, call us today at (866) 758-7670 to speak with a Program Manager or request more information below.

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