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June 2017
Five qualities to look for hiring business intelligence professionals
Authored by: Apoorva Paramesh

The acquisition of Business Intelligence platforms and technologies has always been a crucial requirement for a firm in any sector. These technologies were majorly utilised in banking, telecommunication and energy sector for retrieving interesting patterns, business statistics and data visualization (Kamber et al., 2012).  Due to its potential benefit of providing holistic insights into the business, almost all the sectors specifically, large enterprise firms have begun to acquire BI (IBM Cognos, SAP) at an enterprise level. The trends of BI developments have indeed driven BI market in all sectors. The managers and analysts are adopting various analytical techniques and BI tools to measure and understand their business performance, thus assisting in formulating effective strategies for successful business operations and investments. This clearly shows a need for hiring a potential BI professional for an organizational growth.

Hiring Business Intelligence (BI) professional has been a challenging task. Why?

In current scenario, hiring a talented BI professional has become a challenging task due to minimal number of top performers or less visibility in generic candidate pool. Furthermore, BI professionals are highly paid because of their scope of responsibility and are not easily laid off. In general, BI has numerous number of facets where firms adopt these technologies for various and complicated business requirements in different domains. Hence, a talented BI professional in one domain might not be the best ones if he’s given a responsibility to lead in an entirely different domain. Here comes the challenging part for recruiters to access, if Business Intelligence candidate is relevant for the role they are looking for.

To give a brief introduction about myself, I worked as a BI developer in my previous company for a German airline client. As a BI analyst, I was involved in performing data analytics for the purpose of formulating effective energy management strategies for German airlines. This project was a completely different from other BI projects with complicated business requirements where the project stakeholders were from a hospitality sector with minimal IT experience.

With this experience of working in BI project of two different sectors, I have listed down five basic skills set required to hunt the best business intelligence professional:

Five essential qualities to be considered while hiring BI professionals

With this overview, I decided to share some of my views related to assessing a relevant BI professional for a firm through extracting few qualitative information from them. Before looking for candidates, I believe it is a necessity to understand the granular details of BI function the organisation is looking for, then comes further criteria.

  1. Previous Work Experience

A BI project consists of combination of various roles like ETL developers, business analyst etc. An ETL developer may not interact with clients or may not be aware of the bigger picture of the BI project. On the other hand,  a business analysts or a solution architect are more exposed to client so that they can understand the client requirements and communicate the same to team. Depending on their core expertise and BI function in project, a candidates’ relevancy can be assessed.

  1. Flexibility and  Adaptability

As a BI professional, it is important to be flexible in complex organizational environment in order to understand and cooperate with Organizational culture. Adaptability on the other hand, which is combination of cognitive skills and leadership behaviours can positively impact on driving innovation in the project as well as to the firm.

As an expert, I have seen Business analyst underperforming in projects due to their complications in understanding the project architecture and scope of their function. They often end up comparing their previous experience which might be entirely opposite of what they are in. Hence, a  business intelligence professional should possess eagerness to learn new technology and adapt to new skill sets within the domain.

  1. Analytical skills

As BI project is mainly related to harnessing data and discovering abstract business information through performing data analytics, it is imperative to have a excellent analytical skills.

  1. Communication skills

BI professionals are meant to interact with clients of various levels with different perspectives. Furthermore, most of the project delays due to lack of communication. BI professionals are expected to be strong communicators in delivering the right information between teams. This can be assessed through asking them to be reflective on their past experience.

  1. Technical skills

As new trend of technologies disrupt a business, it might not be very important to have a particular experience in one technology as every company have their own set of BI platforms suitable for their business. The basic skill set of SQL programming, data modelling, basic informatica, RDBMS and any reporting software would suffice

Bottom Line

From the recruitment end, most of the time, technical skills and communication skills are given more importance compare to other criteria. But, the right combination of all these capabilities in a BI professional can be considered for hiring a potential employee from my perspective.