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What Can You Do with a Business Analytics Degree?

Since the dawn of the internet era, data has been aggregated en masse into incomprehensibly large data warehouses. Financial transactions, browsing habits and internet searches, smartphone data, social media activity, blog comments, mobile messaging data, pictures and videos, email, and television watching habits – everything we do is cataloged and analyzed.

The business analytics and data scientist career fields were born of a need to sift through petabytes (one petabyte is a million gigabytes) of data in search of valuable business intelligence and insights that influence corporate decisions. There are quite a few things you can do with a business analytics degree.

Among the many specialties associated with business analytics are marketing research analysts, operations research analysts, data and analytics managers, financial and budget analysts, cost estimators, statisticians, and visualization experts/modelers. An online masters in business data analytics may help prepare students to enter any of these fields.

hand pointing to chart during business meeting

Analyze big data: Become a numbers expert

Working with large amounts of data requires a keen interest in mathematical formulas and databases, as well as a desire to seek highly focused business solutions based on a thorough analysis of all relevant data. Students who find math and analysis interesting may enjoy business analytics.

Big data builds information from an increasingly diverse number of sources. As technological innovation continues to flourish, big data’s “three V’s” — volume of information, velocity of collection, and variety of data scope — will continue to expand. This growth makes individuals with the knowledge and skills to effectively collect and interpret data from these broad sources increasingly valuable in the world of business. This value is reflected through a wide array of intriguing career choices.

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What is a business analytics degree?

To understand what a business analytics degree is, it’s important to understand business analytics. The concept builds upon the practice of researching, collecting, analyzing, and interpreting information from numerous sources to gauge a company’s performance. This can be broken down into various business categories or metrics, such as financial growth or product penetration in a target market.

A business analytics degree can help professionals interpret data accurately, which, in turn, can enable them to identify the strengths and weaknesses in various company strategies.

The determination of what works and what doesn’t can lead to the development of strategies designed to correct deficiencies and fortify successful plans, setting a company up for more robust growth.

Business analytics skills

Several core competencies are considered essential for success in the business analytics field. The most obvious skill to possess is strong analytical expertise: The ability to collect, view, and interpret data is fundamental to any analytics-based position. Other skills include the following:

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving — crucial to effectively make sense of the increasingly large and diverse amount of data
  • Effective communication — important in accurately sharing data-driven results and recommendations with company executives, department leaders, and other key individuals
  • Strong organization — necessary for extrapolating data from a diverse number of sources

Is a business analytics degree worth it?

Since modern business analytics is still an evolving concept that changes with the ebb and flow of technology, business analytics degree holders can find themselves in the unique position of influencing how a business reacts to the concept’s evolution.

This is particularly the case when professionals earn an advanced degree in business analytics, such as Maryville University’s online master’s in business data analytics. Doing so can inform prospective employers that the individuals have honed their knowledge and skills to an elevated level. This can allow them to stand out among other candidates for open positions. A business analytics degree’s worth can also be seen in the broader range of jobs it opens up and in the higher salaries that degree holders can potentially earn.

Business analytics degree salary

According to PayScale.com, the median annual salary for those with a bachelor’s degree in business analytics is around $61,000 as of February 2021. The salary jumps to around $73,000 for those with a master’s degree.

Several factors can further influence a business analytics degree salary. For instance, someone with experience in the field may be able to command a higher salary than someone new to the field. Job location can also be a determining factor: Someone who works in a city with a higher cost of living may earn more than someone in a city with a lower cost of living.

Top careers in business analytics

So what can you do with a business analytics degree? Students who are pursuing a career in analytics might gravitate toward several specialty roles.

Market research analyst

Market research is as old as money itself. In medieval times, Asian traders learned that Europeans would pay a premium price for silk and spices, so they adjusted their trade route accordingly and the Silk Road was born. Modern market research is more refined and relies heavily on digital business analytics. The information provided by analytics makes market research far more effective today than it has ever been in the past.

“Essentially, it’s [the market research analyst’s] job to figure out which products are in demand, how to promote them, who would buy them, and how much people would be willing to pay,” writes labor market data expert Gwen Burrow in her 2014 Emsi blog article “The Marketability of Market Research Analysts.”

Operations research analyst

Operations research began as a military occupational specialty created to analyze and optimize battle strategies during World War II. It didn’t take long, however, for operations research practices to be adapted to the business world. In the digital age, operations research analysts are a bridge of efficiency between a company’s raw resources and a more intelligently guided managerial staff.

The purpose of an operations analyst is to assist in the decision-making processes of company leadership. “The primary role of the operations analyst is to manage the job schedule,” explains tech writer Carol Francois in Wisegeek.com’s 2017 article “What Does an Operations Analyst Do?” “Regardless of the size of an organization,” Francois writes, “there is a limit to the resources available. The management of the schedule ensures that all the necessary jobs are run, without colliding or crashing system resources.”

Management analyst

Rather than working under superiors within a company’s organization (like operations research analysts), management analysts are tasked with analyzing the effectiveness and efficiency of a company’s leadership.

Often, this takes the form of an outside consultation service. The business consulting industry already existed as a premium business service for more than 100 years before Big Data and the rising popularity of analytics changed everything. Now, as analytics technology improves, consulting firms are able to devote their expert human strategists to highly specialized areas rather than requiring a broader scope of practice.

The digitization of the more mundane tasks allows for consultants to concentrate on more specific problems. “Consultancies are shifting from integrated-solution shops to modular providers, which specialize in supplying one specific link in the value chain,” say business experts Clayton M. Christenson, Dina Wang, and Derek van Bever in the 2013 Harvard Business Review article “Consulting on the Cusp of Disruption.”

The next wave of predictive analytics

Unfortunately, the first wave of AI programs was underwhelming. Technology still had to mature a little before we tried again. Now, iterative machine learning algorithms are evolving at an exponential rate.

The business analytics industry is positioned to benefit from machine learning. Predictive models are now created automatically out of analyzed data sets. A probability number is assigned to potential outcomes based on previous, known data. Business analytics professionals can then use the predictions to better serve their employer or client. One way predictive analytics is already being used is in survey analysis.

Machine learning opens up formerly impossible methods of dividing markets and consumers into smaller, more targeted demographics (segmentation).

“Predictive analytics, particularly in those companies that hold large customer information warehouses, can append information to survey data to add segmentation value,” says Multivariate Solutions President Michael Lieberman in his 2016 “Big Data and Marketing Research” article on GreenBookBlog.org, “In addition, survey researchers can use data mining from such warehouses to create custom reports or segmentations.”

Survey analysis might only be useful to market research analysts, but management analysts and operations research analysts are using the same machine learning principles in ways that apply directly to their fields. With the volume of data that has been collected over the past two decades, the possibilities are endless.

Go beyond crunching numbers — study business data analytics at Maryville

At Maryville University, students learn how to handle massive amounts of critical business data using advanced analytical tools, making them invaluable to business decision-makers and corporations.

Enroll in Maryville University’s online Master’s of Science in Business Data Analytics program and turn your knack for numbers into a data analytics skill.

Sources

Cloud Tweaks, “Big Data Analytics Career Job Opportunities”

Economic Modeling, “The Marketability of Market Research Analysts”

Wise Geek. “What does an operations analyst do?”

Harvard Business Review, “Consulting on the Cusp of Disruption”

GreenBook, “How Big Data Augments Marketing Research”