What is a business analyst? Business analyst is someone who can identify the needs for change and ensuring the message is delivered to business units, risk management, IT unit, operation, and eventually to support business to implement the changes. A good business analyst must have a good technical skills, business understanding, good communication and presentation skills.
Today, business analyst must also become a data scientist that possess a deep understanding of advanced statistics and data engineering. Using big data, a business analyst have the ability to analyze and provide solutions: from process improvement, understanding customer behavior (such as customer online shopping experience or customer’s attrition), to pricing optimization.
If you plan to be a business analyst and wondering how to become one, here are some thoughts to get you started:
1. Willingness to learn – Being a business analyst is like being a student of life. You learn new things every day. Even when you don’t know about one thing, people expect you to provide recommendation, a solution and guidance for business to excel. How do you provide recommendation when you don’t have any experience in that area? You learn. Before you do any analysis, walk around, ask people, visit your IT people, sales or operation. Ask them anything, learn from them. Once you have some idea, create your hypothesis and prove it using data. If your hypothesis is wrong start it all over again.
2. Earn business experience – It would be an advantage if you start your career in the business area. Understand what are the main challenges when you run a business: creating a profitable product, obtaining necessary marketing budget, obtaining approval from legal and compliance, making sure that the operation support ready with the sales script and necessary equipment, and everything should done be within limited time period. Plus, you have to meet your ROE. Its a big responsibility. If you can understand the challenges in running in business, you’d become a great business analyst. What if you don’t have business experience? Volunteer. Yes, you can voluntarily ask business to run (or co-run) a project.
3. Ask the right questions – Most of the time, in business, people actually already know what the problems are and they might also already know how to solve it. But most of the time, no one dare to take ask or take action to solve it. A good business analyst need to have the attitude of asking the right questions. The question may be silly at first. For example, you may ask: “Why do we have to go to process A then process B? Why can’t we go to have 1 process called process C?” People may laugh at your question because it sounded silly for them. To them the process is working properly and it has been there for many years. Why change it? Since it is the analyst job to be the agent of change, using big data, you can propose a new process to go straight to process C.
4. Communication skill – Even after you have found the best analysis and on paper it was proven to increase the company’s revenue by 100%, its not always easy to sell your idea to the business. Business people understand the language of business. Thus, if you want to sell your idea, you need to use their language. Scrap too much details in statistics, put them back in your appendix. If you can get their attention in the first 2 minutes, you might be able to sell your idea. Yes, a good business analyst should be a good marketer too.
5. The skill and background – A business analyst can come from any background. You could have engineering degree or history or economics degree. What you need is a strong interest and understanding mathematics and statistics. When I mean strong interest, you don’t have to have PhD in math or statistics, you should love them. You also need to be able to use statistical tools, from excel spreadsheet, SAS or Hadoop.
Do you think you can become a business analyst? Drop a line below should you have any question.