Business Intelligence Careers

A second year student wrote to me: “I study Information System Management and interest in business intelligence area. What skills do I need and what is the job prospect for this career? Please help.”

Answer: Today every company produces and collects a lot of data such as sales data, purchases data, revenues data, profits data, lost data, customer’s data, workers data, productivity data, competitor’s data, market data etc. From all these different types of data, managers and analysts must organize them into certain information to provide to the executives or company owners to make decisions. Using these information, executives and company owners can measure the business results of their company, knowing how well it operates, or plan for the future of the company. The process of collect, organize, analyze and turn these data into usable information is called Business Intelligence (BI).

Business Intelligence is one of the fastest growing jobs in the industry today and demand for these specialists continues to rise as there is more demand but fewer supplies of people who have this skills. Basically jobs in BI consist of three types: Data Engineering, Data warehouse and Data analytics.

The role of Data engineer is to work with the business part of the company to gather the requirements that must be met then write functional specifications for the technical team uses to design and construct necessary solutions. Data engineer define and organize the data to be collected as well their formats.

The role of Data warehouse specialists is involved in building, storing, collecting, maintaining and managing data structures and databases. There are two sub-roles within the Data warehouse group: Data architects who design both relational and multidimensional structures to accomplish the goals set out in the technical specification. Data modelers develop algorithms and models to extract data from different sources, transform it into the desired format, and load it into the data warehouse.

The role of Data analytics is to analyze, select and transform the data into useful information that allow executives and company owners to understand this information and put everything into context. Data analytics work with other analysts and domain experts to create dashboards, scorecards and reports from the data warehouse.

Today most BI systems are using software products from companies such as Oracle, SAP, IBM and Microsoft. For a career in Business Intelligence, you will need at least a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering or information system management. Data engineer must have knowledge of how the business sectors work and have strong skills in requirements engineering process. Data Warehouse specialist must have proficiency in SQL and relational database technology, as well as multidimensional database technology. They must also have knowledge of data modeling and financial accounting procedures and data warehousing design principals, statistics and standards. Data Analytics specialist must have knowledge of an understanding of data analysis and reporting techniques. They must understand business intelligence dashboard solutions, experience developing Business Objects and written business reports. Beside technical skills they must have strong oral and written communication skills, including presentation. Most people who work in BI come from Information System Management program but some also come from computer science and software engineering.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University