Businesses today have access to more data than ever. Data is generated within companies, much of it from marketing and sales. Data also comes from external sources -- election polling and consumer information collected on social media, for example. And the "internet of things" (IoT) is a network of connected devices that captures a flood of data on everything from energy consumption to airline engines.
What is the value of all that data and how are businesses acting on it? This is where analytics comes in. It also explains why the demand for business analytics professionals is so strong.
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an analytics focus can help business professionals make the most of these in-demand career opportunities. With La Salle University's online MBA with a Business Systems and Analytics specialization, for example, students can earn a sought-after credential in just 14 months.
What Are the Outcomes of an MBA With an Analytics Focus?
For innovative business professionals who like to solve problems, the business analytics field may be a perfect fit.
Business analysts, or management analysts, look at past performance and patterns to guide business decisions. By implementing data-driven decision-making, they help organizations reduce costs, increase revenues and improve profitability.
In a program such as La Salle's, core MBA courses help students develop expertise in business fundamentals such as marketing management, managerial accounting, and financial decision-making. In addition, students with a business analytics focus can expect to develop specialized skills through coursework in the following areas:
- Business systems analysis and database design, including analytic tools such as entity relationship diagrams.
- Data warehousing and data mining techniques for discovery of meaningful patterns.
- Emerging trends and technologies in specific business domains, such as accounting, healthcare, sports and human resources.
What Are Employers Looking For?
Business analytics is about more than databases. A Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) 2016 Corporate Recruiters Survey found that 72 percent of participants said they planned to hire recent business school graduates to fill data analytics positions.
Essential skills include, of course, the ability to analyze data. And at a basic level, knowing something about SQL (structured query language) will help. But survey participants also emphasized the need for the following skills:
- Interpersonal, such as with the way people interact and communicate in an organization.
- Communication, through speaking (including presentations), writing and listening.
- Team-building, which includes delegation skills, cross-cultural sensitivities and adaptability.
- Additional specialized skills, depending on the particular needs of a company.
As one GMAC survey participant explained, "We have no interest in individuals who focus solely on data analytics. We want influencers, not statisticians."
What Are the Job-Market Advantages of an MBA With an Analytics Focus?
MBA graduates with analytics expertise are in demand. The GMAC survey found that nearly 70 percent of survey participants plan to hire recent MBA graduates in data analytics roles, with the tech sector leading the way.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of management analysts is projected to grow by 14 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is twice the rate of projected growth across all occupations.
The BLS explains that the demand in analytics is growing as organizations seek to control costs, through measures that include improving efficiencies. Growth is expected to be particularly robust in the following areas:
- Healthcare organizations and insurance companies that need to address changes mandated by federal healthcare reform.
- Smaller consulting companies specializing in information technology, human resources and other specific industries.
- Government agencies looking to cut spending.
- S. businesses that need to develop strategies to expand in foreign markets.
Wondering whether an MBA in analytics will pay off? The BLS reports a median annual wage for management analysts of $82,450, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $152,210. Worth noting, this base salary is often boosted by a year-end bonus.
As with other occupations, salaries may vary from one area of business analytics to another. Looking at various job titles in this field, the BLS reports the following median salaries:
|Title||What They Do||Pay (median annual wage)|
|Information Security Analyst||Protect an organization's computer networks and systems. Develop disaster recovery systems.||$95,510|
|Financial Analyst||Evaluate and manage a business's investment opportunities.||$84,300|
|Management Analyst||Problem-solve to improve efficiencies and profitability.||$82,450|
|Operations Research Analyst||Develop practical solutions to complex business problems.||$81,390|
|Budget Analyst||Analyze data to make decisions related to an organization's income and expenditures.||$75,240|
When it comes to choosing a career path, job seekers have a lot to consider: What am I interested in? What are my natural talents? What skills do I have? What experiences can I build on? These are good questions to consider when exploring career options.
Job prospects and the potential paycheck are also important factors. Those interested in pursuing a career in business analytics, for example, can expect to see an increasing number of job opportunities in this fast-growing field.
The high earning potential is also making a career in business analytics an attractive option, which may result in stiff competition. Job seekers looking for a competitive edge may want to consider the value of an advanced degree. La Salle's MBA with a Business Systems and Analytics specialization, for instance, can prepare candidates with the up-to-date skills and knowledge they need to make the career move to analytics.
Sources:U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Management Analysts
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