Feature

A BI career offers opportunities in technology and management at various levels

Sharon D'Souza, Reporter

Business Intelligence (BI) system has become the backbone of enterprises when it comes to providing insights into business processes, sales revenues and ways for organizational improvement. And this system of managing data and information efficiently is no small task as it needs dedicated personnel — technology and management professionals — to take care of a wide array of technologies, processes and applications. Considering these aspects,

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a BI career can be an intelligent choice for both types of professionals.

A career in BI requires technology professionals to take care of the hands-on technology of managing the system, and management professionals to look after provision of insight into the data that the BI solution throws up. Hence, a successful BI career entails expertise in at least one of these areas. “The key trait that both these classes of people need for a successful BI career is to represent a problem in a numeric way and convert that into a non-numerical solution,” explains Yogesh Bhatt, the Principal Architect at Infosys. It is indeed a different way of looking at a BI career.

However, Anwer Bagdadi, the Executive Director at Paraphora with extensive experience in BI assignments has a slightly viewpoint when it comes to a career in BI. He suggests that BI careers can be broken up into three segments — a mix of technology and general business aspects.

According to Bagdadi, the lowest ingredient for a BI career is a reporting mechanism, which involves collation of data. As for the higher ingredients of a BI career, it may be noted that the information eco-system has different dimensions which involves the organization’s governing portion. This connects the two other levels, the staff and the upper management (from where the dictates come). Ultimately, the organization’s management level takes this critical information and churns it into decisions to fulfill its strategic plans. In this context, there’s substantial scope since a BI career profile than span all these roles. Interestingly, while there may not be clear demarcations of these roles, there definitely are areas that provide ample opportunities for a successful career in BI.

For instance,BI career options may include planning, design, development, deployment, maintenance and support. The roles range from business analyst and technical architect to project manager and delivery manager. As one moves up the ladder, a career in BI becomes more about analytics, which is a natural higher progression of the aforementioned positions.

Careers in BI for the fresher

When it comes to the technology front, an aspirant in the earlier stages of his career can opt for the most feasible option of data modeling. Freshers opting for a BI career can definitely look into the data architecture space. They can build data models, work on databases, and get involved as a developer. Most importantly, freshers considering careers in BI should understand how data bases and data models work. “A person needs to get his head around the BI environment to thrive in it,” informs Bhatt.

For example, the data management aspect of a BI career comprises several areas such as the extract, transform, load (ETL) process. Or it could be about aspects like data warehousing, building of data marts, or the reporting layer. While a BI career aspirant can go for any of these, he cannot be the jack of all trades. Hence, the person does not to get involved in an end- to-end process, but focus on a specialization. Later, after gathering experience, he can look at an end-to-end process on the management side. The next stage in his BI career can deal with becoming an enterprise architect and working in design. 

Training scenario for aspirants

While the above-mentioned aspects explain the technology and management paths of a BI career, let us now take a look at the training aspect. In terms of training for a BI career, most BI vendors provide specialized training on their technology. Training ranges from one-day specialty topics to weeklong sessions that teach individuals about the software’s features and functionality.

It’s possible to gain credentials through BI certifications. Affiliation helps build the trust of the employers in your capabilities. Further, specializing in various areas shows the person’s capabilities. Of course, specific requirements can be developed through experience, but a base can be helpful for development of a career in BI. Hence, certification is an important aspect of a BI career, but it’s not a must. If the applicant has good work experience but is not certified, that should in no way hinder his ability to deliver. Certification raises the image, but it is the end-delivery that says the most. From a management perspective, however, the experience and domain-specific knowledge are crucial.

Is the BI career stable in nature?

While a career in BI does seem to offer several options, a large section of the population still perceives of it as an unstable domain. However, Sanjay Raj, the Practice Director for BI and data warehousing at Syntel reassures, “An increasing number of C-suite executives are now recognizing BI as a means to enable operational efficiencies as well as identifying growth opportunities by monitoring and aligning strategic goals with tactical initiatives. Large budgets are also being sanctioned for this.”

Customer activities with BI have now become measurable. Since the link between production and purchase patterns is strongly connected, BI helps understand demand requirements. Analytics is also picking up, as companies want to know points of inefficiency and revenue loss. Hence, a career in BI is definitely a good idea.

In fact, BI as a career may evolve and be called by other names, but the opportunities it offers will not diminish. It has to be noted that information management has been realized as a power tool to gain competitive edge. In this context, BI career options should be considered seriously, as there is an acute shortage of personnel in this field.

There are several verticals such as banking and financial services, telecom, retail, healthcare and utility services that have been benefiting by BI. Several other verticals such as manufacturing are now realizing the power of BI. Hence, BI as a career option has a bright future.

To sum it up, the experience obtained from designing, developing and deploying BI initiatives provides first-hand knowledge. This knowledge, along with continuous learning, can build sufficient expertise resulting in a successful and rewarding career in BI. If channelised in a proper manner, this expertise can be even useful in offering consultancy to various organizations across industry verticals. That’s not all; BI experts can also take a shot at becoming CTOs and CIOs of the future. What more can be asked for, from a career in BI?