Smart businesses make decisions based on reliable data. Because of the speed and variety of transactions and interactions on the Internet these days, many businesses accumulate huge amounts of data, also known as Big Data.
How do businesses know where to look to find reliable data? And how can they sort through and store all of this data?
That’s where the experts in the field of business intelligence come in.
According to Kyle Steele, CEO and co-founder of Doccaster in Orlando, business intelligence is not only about collecting data, but “being able to install the systems that collect that data and allow you to analyze that data so you can make decisions at the speed of thought.”
New data mining tools, cloud computing, and data management systems like Hadoop give business intelligence professionals the ability to set up systems that look for complex patterns and relationships across large swaths of data and between different groups of people – say, customers, vendors, or users.
“Business intelligence is kind of like pulling the curtain back on the Wizard of Oz,” explains Rob Burrows, the Program Director for Full Sail’s new Business Intelligence Master of Science degree program, which launches this fall. “This information has always been out there, but because of the level of technology and the cost, we didn’t have the opportunity to get it all in one place and analyze it previously.”
Steele’s company, Doccaster, collects and interprets event data for colleges and universities through social media and the company’s app, Eventlocker.me.
“As a business, you need actionable information so you can make decisions,” says Steele. “Your ability as a business to be competitive in this world, to fight off competition, to see something that’s wrong in your process – the quicker you’re able to access that information, the better off you are.”
As a customer, you’ll most likely encounter business intelligence systems on online retail sites or through social media, says Rob Burrows, the Program Director for Full Sail’s Business Intelligence Master of Science degree program.
For instance, what you see at the bottom of an Amazon product page is a good example of business intelligence applications in action, says Burrows.
“When you go on there and you look for a book, at the bottom of your selection, you see a little popup [with a list of books] that says, ‘People who have purchased this book have also looked at or bought these other books,’” says Burrows.
“What they’re doing is, in real-time, they’re taking your search activity and they’re correlating it with the results that other people have generated in the past. They’re trying to deliver some useful information or relationships to you,” he adds.
Another example might be how Twitter recommends that you follow people or organizations that are similar to the ones you already follow.
However, business intelligence systems are not limited to social media and online retailers. Data mining and analysis is becoming an integral part of many industries – including healthcare, shipping, finance, manufacturing, consumer products, utilities, and entertainment.
Regardless of the industry, business systems integrators are in particular demand. “Companies are looking for people who can knit their fragmented information systems together so that they can create a unified data-warehoused business intelligence system.”
Other types of potential business intelligence positions include data scientists, data warehouse analysts, business data analysts, and business intelligence managers.
Burrows said he expects that students in Full Sail’s new Business Intelligence Master of Science degree program will come from varied, analytical backgrounds.
“We’re going to be taking people who have a background in IT and analytics and the fields that relate to business intelligence, and we’re going to be giving them the strategic higher management view of business intelligence that will help them take the next step in their career,” says Burrows.