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The Top 8 Business Analyst Skills for 2024

Explore the top technical and soft business analyst skills needed to succeed and how you can best showcase them in your portfolio and on your resume.
Nov 2023  · 11 min read

Business analytics is becoming a core pillar of any company. In today's data-driven business environment, growing and scaling a business without some analytical capabilities is no longer feasible.

The role of the business analyst has evolved from simple requirements gathering to a more strategic position involving optimization and innovation. As such, the demand for business analysts has never been higher than it is today. They are pivotal in bridging the gap between business needs and technological solutions, ensuring organizations make informed decisions based on data-driven insights.

In this article, you will understand the role of the business analyst, the essential technical and soft skills to succeed as a business analyst, and how you can best showcase your skills through your resume and portfolio.

Understanding the Business Analyst Role

The nature of the business analyst role varies depending on the company's size and requirements. Smaller businesses or startups may require the business analyst to take on various responsibilities, such as those of the data analyst, product manager, and systems analyst. However, for larger businesses with dedicated teams in IT and data, the role of the business analyst may be narrower and more strategic.

According to the International Institute of Business Analysts: "Business analysts work across all levels of an organization and may be involved in everything from defining strategy to creating the enterprise architecture to taking a leadership role by defining the goals and requirements for programs and projects or supporting continuous improvement in its technology and processes."

You can learn more about how to become a business analyst by viewing our free webinar.

The Business Analyst vs Business Analytics Professional

While both roles deal with data, business analysts focus on optimizing processes and implementing solutions, whereas business analytics professionals emphasize analyzing and interpreting data to inform strategic decisions. Read our separate article to learn more about business analytics.

Business analysts form the bridge between business and analytics. While they do not typically get into the weeds of analyzing data, writing code, or building machine learning models, business analysts are vital in ensuring the success of analytical projects, from defining requirements to implementing the final result.

However, it is still crucial for business analysts to have extensive knowledge and experience in data and analytical systems, such as those used in visualization, data science, and database management. This is because they are responsible for developing innovative solutions across almost every business unit that may require implementing one or more of these tools. The business analyst must be experienced with these systems to identify the best approach to solving a business problem.

Core Responsibilities of a Business Analyst

We can break the responsibilities of a business analyst into four core components:

  • Decode: Researching, finding, and implementing an efficient and often innovative solution to various business problems across an organization is the bread-and-butter of the business analyst's role.
  • Optimize: From creating and implementing business processes that improve efficiency and productivity across multiple business units to analyzing and troubleshooting analytical systems, the role of the business analyst is always heavily focused on optimization.
  • Document: Business analysts must be able to author and update documentation throughout the lifecycle of a project – from defining the requirements and scope of the project to documenting the final product and results.
  • Communicate: As the bridge between technical and non-technical, the business analyst must be an expert communicator and storyteller, interpreting and translating data into actionable insights.

Essential Technical Business Analyst Skills

The effectiveness of business analysts is amplified by a robust set of technical skills, allowing them to navigate complex analyses, uncover insights, and contribute meaningfully to decision-making processes.

In mastering the following technical skills, business analysts position themselves as indispensable assets.

1. Data Analysis and Visualization

Business analysts leverage data analysis to extract meaningful insights, enabling informed and data-driven decision-making.

These are some of the tools and technologies that a business analyst should be proficient in:

  • Proficiency in SQL is essential for extracting, manipulating, and analyzing data from databases. Check out DataCamp's skill track dedicated to SQL for Business Analysts to build your SQL skills.
  • Familiarity with programming languages like Python enables business analysts to automate tasks and conduct advanced data analyses. Our Python Programming skill track is the ideal place to boost your skills in this area.
  • Visualization tools such as Power BI and Tableau enable analysts to create and present compelling visual representations of data to stakeholders, telling a story with the data that drives decision-making.

Our Data Visualization in Tableau course is an ideal way to familiarize yourself with one of the most popular industry tools, and you can check out our tutorial on data visualization techniques to develop the skills to present your data.

2. Statistical and quantitative analysis

A solid understanding of statistical concepts equips business analysts with the ability to interpret machine learning models and other analyses accurately and derive meaningful conclusions. This knowledge of statistical analysis is integral for identifying trends, patterns, and potential areas for improvement.

Statistical and quantitative analysis goes hand-in-hand with programming languages like R and Python. Business analysts should have a deep knowledge of these programming languages to determine which business problems they are best suited to solving and effectively scope out the requirements and components of the projects.

Check out our course on Statistics Fundamentals with Python for more insight into drawing conclusions from data.

3. Proficiency in business intelligence tools

Business intelligence tools are powerful assets for creating interactive and visually compelling dashboards and reports. Business analysts use BI tools like Power BI and Tableau to convey insights in a digestible format, making complex data analyses accessible to a broader audience.

Additionally, business analysts can leverage these BI tools to create dynamic reports based on the results of analytical projects. This transforms static presentations into collaborative discussions. The interactivity and flexibility of BI tools mean that you can answer any questions on the spot.

Get started today with our Introduction to Power BI course, which gives a comprehensive introduction to one of the most popular business intelligence tools.

Business Analyst Soft Skills

While technical prowess is a cornerstone of a business analyst's skill set, the importance of soft skills cannot be overstated. This section explores the interpersonal attributes that elevate a business analyst from a data expert to a strategic collaborator and effective communicator.

As strategic thinkers and effective communicators, business analysts with honed soft skills contribute to successful project outcomes and the overall cohesion and efficiency of the teams they work with.

4. Communication and presentation skills

As we mentioned earlier, business analysts are the bridge between technical and non-technical stakeholders, requiring clear and concise communication. Translating complex data findings into actionable insights is a crucial skill.

Business analysts may need to present these findings to a diverse audience and must be able to adapt to varying skill levels and subject matters. Check out our course on Communicating Data Insights to start developing these skills today.

5. Problem-solving and critical thinking

Business analysts excel in scenario analysis, foreseeing potential challenges, and proposing solutions. Thinking critically about a problem is crucial to assessing the implications of various decisions and guiding teams toward the most effective strategies.

This critical thinking allows business analysts to delve beyond surface issues to address underlying factors impacting organizational performance. This is known as root cause analysis and is an essential skill for problem resolution.

6. Interpersonal and negotiation nkills

Since business analysts work with many different teams and departments, they should have strong interpersonal skills to build relationships and foster collaboration. Everyone involved in a project should have a shared understanding of the project's objectives.

This aspect of the role can be particularly challenging to maneuver. Business analysts need to have the skills necessary to communicate well and negotiate effectively so that discussions around project scope, resource allocation, and conflict resolution lead to mutually beneficial outcomes.

As the industry evolves, those seeking to understand and incorporate these advancements into their skill set are better equipped to tackle complex challenges and drive meaningful impact within their organizations.

7. Adaptability and continuous learning

Business analysts operate in a dynamic environment where technologies, methodologies, and industry best practices constantly evolve. Thus, a vital aspect of the role involves staying updated with emerging trends, tools, and methodologies to remain relevant and practical.

A mindset of continuous learning is crucial. Business analysts should actively seek opportunities for professional development and skill enhancement and be able to adapt to new and changing project requirements.

8. Understanding of machine learning and AI basics

Machine learning and AI are fast becoming prominent components in business analysis. These technologies are transforming the way we analyze data and make decisions. Business analysts must understand how to effectively integrate AI and ML techniques into traditional business analysis processes.

Business analysts need hands-on experience with these technologies to realize their potential. Check out the two skill tracks below from DataCamp to acquire foundational knowledge in machine learning and AI:

Building and Showcasing Your Skills

Equipping yourself with the right skills is the first step; effectively presenting and leveraging those skills is equally crucial.

Navigating the job application process requires you to showcase your capabilities. By carefully preparing your portfolio and resume and actively seeking opportunities for practical experience and networking, you can set yourself apart from the crowd and significantly improve your chances of securing a job as a business analyst.

Education and certification

Pursue degrees or certifications that align with the specific focus areas of business analysis, such as DataCamp's Data Analyst Certification, to prove you have the technical expertise required as a business analyst.

Gaining practical experience

Seek internships, cooperative education opportunities, or entry-level positions to gain hands-on experience. Engage in real-world projects to apply theoretical knowledge to practical problem-solving scenarios (we talk more about this in the next section on building a portfolio).

Even working on some data analysis projects can help demonstrate your practical business analyst skills.

Creating a Portfolio and Building a Resume

  • Portfolio building: Develop a portfolio showcasing your real-world applications of business analysis skills. Include case studies, project summaries, and visualizations to demonstrate your ability to solve complex business problems. If you're looking for datasets to start building projects for your portfolio, DataCamp's Workspace Datasets are one of the best places to go.
  • Resume Building: The key to building a resume that can land you a job is first to analyze job descriptions and target your resume toward fulfilling the requirements that are usually included. DataCamp has an excellent guide on how to write business analyst job descriptions; use it to tailor your own resume and highlight the essential skills and experiences required for the role.
  • Networking: Finally, you should network with professionals in the field, attend conferences, and engage in discussions to expand your professional connections. Actively participate in industry events, forums, and online communities. You will be able to accelerate your learning and build relationships that could lead to your first or next job.

Conclusion

From technical expertise to critical soft skills, a well-rounded skill set is the key to becoming a successful business analyst. As the field continues to evolve, embracing emerging trends and continuous learning ensures that business analysts remain at the forefront of innovation.

If you are an aspiring business analyst, you can position yourself as a valuable asset to any organization if you understand the nuances of the role, acquire the necessary skills, and adopt a mindset of continuous learning.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive resource for building your business analyst skills, check out our skill track on SQL for Business Analysts.


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