Job opportunities for business analytics professionals are seemingly limitless nowadays. Data analytics has become one of the most in-demand skills in the current job market. Therefore, companies are seeking more individuals who can integrate these practices into any business function. As these positions trend upward in the job market, so too does the business analytics salary. A Master of Science in Business Analytics doesn’t just boost the number of professional opportunities available. It also boosts the pay that comes with them.
But what, exactly, is business analytics?
An Overview of Business Analytics
Business analytics is the practice of quantifying, interpreting, and utilizing data to make informed business decisions. Combining the hard skills of data-science with the softer skills of business management, business analytics is a data-driven method for critical thinking and problem-solving. A business analytics approach to problem-solving considers these kinds of questions:
- What caused a particular trend in the data?
- Will this trend occur again?
- How likely will it occur again?
- Which variables change the outcome?
- How do they change it?
- What “underlying issues” in the data need to be addressed?
Business analysts employ three types of analytics to answer these questions:
- Descriptive analytics - Examines past data to determine trends, and tracks “key performance indicators” to describe and understand the present state of affairs.
- Predictive analytics - Forecasts future outcomes by interpreting patterns in the data.
- Prescriptive analytics - Utilizes past data to generate recommendations and tests them to determine the optimal outcome.
The Significance of Business Analytics Today
Data is overwhelmingly abundant these days. It is more or less equally accessible to all companies. The demand for data organization and analysis, therefore, has become more and more significant. Business analytics provides a major competitive advantage to a company.
Thanks to the glut of information in the digital age, data-related questions have evolved in the business world. It is no longer enough to know what data trends exist. We also need to know why they exist (descriptive analytics) and how we can learn from them (predictive and prescriptive analytics).
No wonder business analytics is proving to be one of the primary variables for success in the modern business world. It should come as no surprise that a business analytics salary is higher for an employee with a master’s in this field compared with an employee in a similar position but with no expertise in this area.
A 2019 Forbes survey found that more than 95 percent of businesses face a need to manage unstructured data. Over 40 percent of businesses report that they need data management on a frequent basis. According to the World Economic Forum, big data analytics is the number-one competency that companies plan to adopt by 2022.
Trends in the workforce reveal that data-driven decision-making skills are essential today. On LinkedIn’s survey of “Skills Companies Need Most Today,” business analysis ranks sixth (10 spots higher than last year). Analytical reasoning – another crucial skill for a business analytics professional – sits at #3.
To increase their competitive edge, companies are utilizing business analytics in all departments, not just IT and traditionally data-centric departments. In areas from HR to Operations, businesses are emphasizing analytical skills and data-driven problem-solving. They are looking for graduates with a Master of Science in Business Analytics to fill these roles.
Career Opportunities for Graduates with a Master’s in Business Analytics
An MSBA degree can lead to a wellspring of career opportunities, today more than ever. Last year, 72 percent of technology companies directly sought candidates with a master’s in business analytics, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2019 Corporate Recruiters Survey. Data science was ranked as the single most promising job in America, in terms of a business analytics salary, career progress, and number of employment opportunities.
A study by PwC and the Business-Higher Education Forum revealed that over a third of data science roles in the U.S. require a master's degree or higher. What’s more, there were 4,000 unfilled data science jobs in 2019 – which is about 1,400 more than the year before.
The Operations Research Analyst position – a job well-suited for an MSBA degree-holder – is projected to grow by 26 percent within the next decade and is listed as the sixth most rapidly growing position, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Two other business analytics professions, Market Research Analyst and Management Analyst aren’t far behind. They are projected to grow by 20 percent and 14 percent respectively.
What Is the Business Analytics Salary Outlook?
The multitude of business skills and hands-on data analysis that St. Bonaventure University Online offers in the MSBA curriculum not only increases a candidate’s pool of potential job prospects, but it also increases their potential business analytics salary. Departments like sales, accounting, and operations are offering staggering salary boosts for candidates with training in data applications. According to a 2019 Burning Glass survey, there’s a 41 percent premium for marketers who know SAS software. An MSBA degree offers many opportunities for bonuses in addition to an impressive business analytics salary.
A candidate with an MS in Business Analytics is highly effective in any role that integrates data-driven analysis and some form of business/systems operations. Such roles include Project Manager and HR Manager. Though the title remains the same, the duties have changed.
Here are a few positions that align with the MSBA degree, and their median salaries, as listed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Operations Research Analyst: $84,810
- Management Analyst: $85,260
- Computer Systems Analyst: $88,740
- Logistics Analyst: $74,600
Every year, business analytics takes a more central role in more and more jobs that have not traditionally been thought of as data related. The job market, therefore, is constantly producing new positions for which data analytics is a vital qualification. The 2019 Robert Half Technology Salary Guide indicates two newer positions trending in business analytics:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Analyst: $97,000
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Business Analyst: $102,000
The Master of Science in Business Analytics can also qualify candidates for roles that are less business-oriented and more data-specific. Some data science positions may not utilize the entire skillset offered in the MSBA curriculum. But MSBA graduates would be more than equipped to handle the required duties. Also, they can act as a valuable liaison between data and operations within a company.
Most importantly, the current job market for data science happens to be the most promising and lucrative in the U.S., especially for candidates with a master’s degree in business analytics. Some trending, data-related positions and the median salary for each, according to the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide, include:
- Big Data Engineer: $163,250
- AI Architect: $143,750
- Data Architect: $141,250
- Data Scientist: $125,250
- Data Modeler: $101,750
- Database Manager: $133,500
- Database Developer: $121,500
- Database Administrator: $100,250
- Business Intelligence Analyst: $110,250
- Data Analyst/Report Writer: $100,250
- Data Warehouse Analyst: $99,250
- Data Reporting Analyst: $78,500
Companies are utilizing data analysis in nearly every department. The modern business landscape now calls for data analysis in nearly every facet of a company. Departments like HR, Finance, and Marketing are hiring individuals with backgrounds in data science and analytics, creating more opportunities for MSBA graduates and increasing the business analytics salary.
Business Analytics in Human Resources
Companies have been adopting business analytics to reveal more about employee performance. Human Resources departments utilize analytics in creative ways to increase productivity and resolve internal issues. HR Analysts employ descriptive analytics to quantify the real-time benefits of training tactics. They are able to prove payroll discrepancies and optimize overtime compensation. They can also use business analytics to reveal the primary causes of attrition within specific departments. Here are some job titles that are related both to HR and business analytics, salary included:
- Human Resources Manager: $116,720
- Human Resources Information Systems Analyst: $67,210
- Compensation/Benefits Analyst: $60,507
Business Analytics in Finance
Financial departments use real-time predictive analysis in a number of ways: predictive sales analytics, client profitability analytics, product profitability analytics, cash flow analytics, shareholder value analytics, and more. Here are some jobs in finance that employ business analytics:
Business Analytics in Marketing
Data analytics is essential to successful marketing campaigns. Marketers use business analytics to develop “buyer personas” that are created to understand customers’ wants, needs, and goals. They analyze data to create the most efficient campaigns, maximizing return on investment and audience reach. There is a plethora of opportunities for individuals with business analytics training in the marketing world. Here are a few positions that combine marketing with business analytics, salary included (from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Payscale):
Business Analytics in Action: Case Studies
HR Analytics at Xero and Microsoft
Business analytics serves a vital role in human resources. Companies have discovered that they can’t rely on employee surveys and exit interviews alone, so they’ve turned to big data for solutions. Many companies have focused their efforts on employee retention, deploying data analysis to lower attrition rates. Using quantitative data and predictive analytics, HR departments have found ways to capitalize on specific behavioral trends.
A 2019 article in The Wall Street Journal examined the role of data analytics in a campaign to minimize employee attrition at Xero.
Xero, a call-center with nearly 50,000 employees, used human resources analytics to map employee personality types against retention rates. This analysis revealed that employees with “creative” personality types typically lasted six months or longer at their job – long enough for the company to recoup its $5,000 investment in training them. Employees with more “inquisitive” personality types were less likely to last six months, resulting in wasted training dollars.
When Xero started to pay more attention to personality in their hiring practice, in addition to experience and professionalism, they decreased their attrition rate by 20% within half a year.
Companies are also finding new ways to improve employee efficiency through business analytics. Creative analytic strategies conserve time and resources while improving the quality of life in workplaces. In 2015, Microsoft deployed a Workplace Analytics Team – a specialized, data-driven HR group – to explore the effect of face-to-face interaction in employee performance.
By relocating employees to fewer buildings in closer proximity, they decreased meeting travel time by 46 percent. This saved a hundred hours per week and $520,000 per year in employee time. Teams were meeting more often to collaborate, and the duration of the meetings also decreased. Microsoft’s research highlighted the significance of in-person interaction and workspace planning in maximizing company efficiency.
Marketing Analytics at Progressive and DirectTV
Business analytics have also been integrated with marketing strategies to boost sales performance. The insurance company Progressive began to analyze data when they launched a mobile app. They discovered that a large majority of customers were interested in being able to purchase insurance directly from the app. When they implemented a “buy” option on the app, the company saw a $2 billion increase in written premiums within a year.
Progressive took data analysis using the mobile app even further, introducing an entirely new Pay As You Drive program that monitors driver behavior to determine insurance discounts. Progressive is now able to personalize rates based on real driving patterns, maximizing efficiency and product sales.
Companies are using analytics to effectively listen to the consumer’s needs and deliver prompt solutions. Businesses have learned to find untapped audiences through data analysis and adapt marketing strategies to target these groups.
DirectTV did just that when its marketing analytics team revealed an opportunity to expand its user base. Through data analysis, they identified a specific market to target: customers who have recently moved into a new residence. The company found that people who move into a new home are far more likely to try out a new service. The marketing analytics team acquired United States Postal Service (USPS) data that listed homeowners who recently applied for a change in address. Next, they created a new DirectTV homepage with graphics and discounts tailored to people who are in the process of moving. They targeted their campaign to the addresses identified in the USPS data. The data-driven marketing campaign proved to be far more effective than their previous ones.
To maximize profitability and minimize costs, financial departments are working closely with big data analytics while collaborating with operations managers. For example, a leading health care industry manufacturer sought to gain insights into the status of their products post-sale. They utilized sensor logs and usage data and combined them with pre-existing analytics to better monitor customer equipment. They were able to maximize equipment up-time and minimize replacement costs by providing proactive and preventative service through analytics. Their new solution also eased the financial department’s ability to communicate and problem solve alongside the business management department, maximizing efficiency and service contract profitability.
As exemplified in the scenarios above, effective data analysis focuses not on the impact you’ve made but on how exactly you made it. Business analytics allows you to quantify a “soft” science like HR or marketing and use hard data to solve problems. These examples also prove that the most effective data-driven problem solving comes from collaboration between departments.
MSBA graduates are ideal candidates for positions that call for cross-department collaboration because they are fluent in both data science and business operations. They’re equipped with the tools to interpret data-driven trends. They can also apply these interpretations to thoughtful solutions.
Because data analytics is becoming increasingly important in every sector of the business world, an MS in Business Analytics qualifies you for more and more jobs every year. As businesses seek more creative solutions through business analytics, MSBA graduates are able to apply their degrees to any area they’re interested in. Business analytics salary expectations are higher for a worker with the same job and no degree in business analytics.
What Should You Look for in a Business Analytics Degree?
A Master of Science in Business Analytics should have courses that emphasize both critical thinking and hands-on experience with the latest data technologies, including:
- IBM Optimization Studio
A quality MSBA program, one designed to prepare students with the most up-to-date skills employers need, covers all these applications and more. Knowledge of computer skills like these can increase potential job prospects and increase a potential business analytics salary as well.
Students in the MSBA program first build a strong foundation in the fundamentals: statistics, introduction to business analytics, and foundations of programming.
Then, students continue with two sets of core courses. Core I is an introduction to essential analytical skills: data warehousing and data visualization. Core II expands on the first set, applying those basic analytical skills to three more in-depth subjects: predictive analysis, prescriptive analysis, and the ethics of analytics.
After completing the core courses, students move on to their choice of three elective pathways: cyber analytics, finance analytics, and marketing analytics. These pathways feature lessons with real-world data issues. If none of the provided pathways facilitate a student’s desired career goals, they are able to select an assortment of courses and customize their degree. The online business analytics master’s program culminates in a final capstone project prior to graduation.
The primary value of an MS in Business Analytics lies not in the coursework itself but in how you can apply the coursework to a professional setting. The MSBA program allows students to integrate core skills into any business scenario. The five core skill areas an MS in Business Analytics should focus on:
- Strategic mindset: A skilled strategist identifies project goals, challenges, metrics and feedback mechanisms based on available information.
- Business acumen: Analysts evaluate how data-based solutions fit into the context of company missions, customer expectations and market factors.
- Quantitative methods: This is the core of an MSBA, boiled down to storing, processing and presenting data for various audiences.
- Technological aptitude: You will learn current tools like Tableau, SQL, Python and Excel with the flexibility to learn the latest technology.
- Connective communication: Analysts are only as successful as their ability to use all of the aforementioned skills to communicate with non-analysts.
Who Should Get a Master’s in Business Analytics?
Because business analytics is becoming increasingly applicable to nearly every facet of the business world, St. Bonaventure University encourages individuals from all fields of study to enroll in the MSBA program. No prerequisites are required. The MSBA program is 100 percent online, so students are able to pursue a Master of Science in Business Analytics while they work.
Though gender imbalance is a common trend in the corporate world, positions in business analytics are becoming increasingly popular for female candidates. The International Institute of Business Analysis reported that 52 percent of business analysts in 2019 were women. This field, though still in its early stages of growth, continues to provide a path for female analytics professionals, further proving that all individuals from all backgrounds can benefit from an MSBA degree.
Ranked #3 in New York and #3 in the North for best regional university value for 2020 for Best Value School in 2021 by U.S. News & World Report and accredited by the AACSB, St. Bonaventure offers a Master of Science in Business Analytics that is a top-tier program that equips its students for success in the modern business world. With training in the latest data applications and a customizable curriculum, MSBA graduates can forge their own path to a successful career in business analytics.
Read more of SBU online's top MSBA blogs below: