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August - 2006 - issue > Destination U.S
Business Intelligence Intelligent job option
Sanjeev Jain
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
BI is a broad and complex field that encompasses many disciplines. Therefore BI professionals as a group cover an equally broad range of skills and disciplines ranging from highly technical areas such as systems administration to business-oriented skills, defining and working with analytics.

Seattle, Washington, based The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) segments BI professionals into five specialty areas:
Leadership & Management is a key success factor for business intelligence programs and projects, with strong focus on effectively integrating people, processes, and technology to deliver business value. The field requires process knowledge, including development methodology, program and project management, as well as organizational and team-building skills.

Business Analytics focuses on effective use of data and information to drive positive business actions. The body of knowledge for this area includes both business and technical topics, including concepts of performance management, definition and delivery of business metrics, data visualization, and deployment and use of technology solutions such as OLAP, dashboards, scorecards, analytic applications, and data mining.

Data Analysis & Design All business intelligence applications depend on quality Data Analysis and Design. Analysis concentrates on understanding business requirements for data and information. Design focuses on translating business information into data structures. Core skills include information needs analysis, specification of business metrics, and data modeling. Solid understanding of data warehousing concepts, architectures and processes is also essential.

Data Integration is fundamental to data warehousing and is a vital process for a rich and robust data resource to deliver Business Intelligence solutions. Integration includes all of the activities necessary to acquire data from sources, and to transform and cleanse the data. The body of knowledge includes concepts and skills for source data analysis and qualification, data profiling, source/target mapping, data cleansing and ETL development.

Administration & Technology covers those areas related to managing the infrastructure and ensuring continuous operation of data warehousing and business intelligence solutions. Technology architecture, technology planning and configuration, system and network administration, capacity planning, growth management, database administration, system and network administration and access and security administration are essential skills in this area.

Meighan Berberich of TDWI says the market for BI professionals currently favors suppliers, with demand outstripping the available number of people with depth-of-knowledge and real experience. This is true across all five areas of specialization, but appears to be most pronounced in the areas of Leadership & Management and Data Integration. It is likely that the fastest growing area in the coming years will be Business Analytics in response to demand for dashboards, scorecards, predictive analytics, etc.

BI is a point where business and technology converge in a highly interdependent way. Every area of BI specialization requires knowledge of both business and technology.

Both business-functional expertise and technical expertise are needed to perform effectively as a BI professional. Programming skills are a relatively small part of the overall BI landscape as much of the work including data integration is done through vendor tools.

There are also a variety of industries where specialized knowledge and experience is beneficial to the BI professional. Most significant among these are financial services, telecommunications, healthcare, insurance, and retail.

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