Skills that BI Professionals Need in 2017

A new year means a new start for many things. Business intelligence isn’t one of them. The discipline has been around for many years and seen multiple waves of development and implementation. The coming year may see the continuation of new requirements and demands, and BI professionals need to be ready.

The first step is to understand the trends BI will likely see in the coming year. Here are some:

  • Prediction and prescription. Understanding historic trends is important, but companies are most interested in what will happen in the future. New analytic methods help predict what will happen.
  • Artificial intelligence. The use of AI technology can help companies keep up with the flood of real-time data a modern corporation sees. That has become particularly vast as Internet of Things devices provide a previously unimaginable amount of information.
  • Center of excellence. More organizations will likely establish BI and analysis centers of excellence to drive data-centric decision making in the companies and the expansion of self-serve BI capabilities.
  • Collaborative BI. Collaboration will be a must for organizations, as decisions and planning are the product of multiple people, not single decision makers using tools in isolation. That will extend to working with business partners at other companies.
  • Cloud analytics. Hosting analytics in the cloud will become more popular and, to that end, so will cloud-hosted analytic tools.
  • Embedded capabilities. BI will increasingly be tied into other applications to enable more efficient use and faster implementation of results.
  • Security. With the degree of sensitive information used in BI, systems could become targets of criminal activity.

To deal with these trends and others, BI professionals should ensure that their skill sets, as Forrester analyst Boris Evelson writes:

    • Professionals need data integration expertise and the ability to pull data in from multiple sources. Beyond databases, pulling in spreadsheets and even scraping data off websites might be necessary.
    • Data governance, including data quality and management, is a fundamental requirement for BI experts. If the data isn’t good and clean, the results are bad.
  • Professionals must know how to model data, both in relational systems and multidimensional treatments.
  • It’s not enough to know BI tools and practices. Pros will need to understand the business processes that generate the data.
  • Skills in communication and presentation are as important as technical ones.
  • Project management is critical.
  • In addition, there are the technical requirements of training in the BI platform, knowledge of databases and query languages, and understanding of data structures.

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