Is My Job Considered Business Intelligence?

Laptop with a pen

Having worked in the same company for over a decade now I’d forgotten a little of what it was like to experience the general confusion many people can get over their job description and what it entails compared to other similar roles.

Is this what I think it is?

I read a thread on Reddit /r/businessintelligence where the OP was working their first job out of college and was being pushed by their manager to get a Master’s degree in Business Intelligence. Their main problem was that they didn’t know if the job they were currently doing was even BI itself.

A quick list of their basic job tasks went like this:

  • Run reports.
  • Collect stats from business users, research what caused the issues and present the findings to management.
  • Build pivot table reports in Excel with data from Cognos and Access.
  • Act as the education department’s “data analyst” and provide recommendations to help improve call centre performance.

Based on that it’s a fairly straightforward answer for me – yes, you work in Business Intelligence. Going back to my own post on the four stages of an analytics process, this person clearly covers off the reporting and analysis portions which I would roll up under the Business Intelligence umbrella.

If Predictive Analytics looks forward to see what will happen, Business Intelligence is the part that looks backwards to see what did happen and why.

Great so now what?

The other side of that answer is this though: now you know, what are you going to do with this information?

I’ve worked as a data miner, data analyst, senior data analyst and senior database manager and, while the title changed, the main data-driven job tasks and skills needed didn’t.

I extracted, transformed and loaded data. I built and ran reports. I analysed the results and presented to management and executives. I modelled the customer base and added more value to the existing data to help generate leads or improve customer service.

The skills overlapped and enabled me to grow further in each competency and that’s what really matters.

Buzzword Bingo On The CV

Unless you head down a very specific siloed path in your data analytics career I don’t think it really matters what your job title is. Having your own definition of what each aspect of the job entails (e.g. do I do business intelligence work?) is helpful when putting your CV together to show what you have worked on but, with so many skills overlapping within the general area, I’m more interested in seeing what an applicant has actually done, not what they were called while doing it.

Am I an analyst? A BI developer? A data scientist? A data engineer? An ETL developer?

Knowing what you are is difficult in any industry or profession where the definitions on what is what keep changing or aren’t ever agreed upon fully.

Even more so if you wind up wearing a lot of hats like the OP in the Reddit thread above (and me in my own career). That suited me because I like a breadth of experiences rather than being pigeon holed into one thin salami sliced remit. You might differ and prefer that narrower focus that lets you go deeper on a particular skill or area.

My advice is just don’t tie yourself in knots wondering if your job title properly matches your job description and role. Even worse if your worrying is down to where this will force your career to go in future.

No matter where you work, I am sure they have much more interesting questions for you to be using your valuable brain power on right now. If they don’t, that’s when you really need to worry.

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