The Benefits of an MBA in Business Intelligence

Man with hands on hips looking at at a large projection of a business analytics dashboard
Man with hands on hips looking at at a large projection of a business analytics dashboard

Business intelligence is the use of technology, insight gathering, and data analysis to turn information into actionable, strategic, and data-driven change. It’s not a new term, but it’s becoming a more prominent one, as companies harness the power of using big data to make moves that can give them an edge over their competition.

Studying business intelligence in school involves learning the tools and technologies used to collect, manage, and analyze big data. Business intelligence experts then visualize their data analysis and use it to help influence business-related decisions. A growing number of MBA programs (including accredited online MBA programs) now offer business intelligence as an MBA concentration, giving students the chance to learn data collection, management, analysis, and visualization skills in a business-first environment.

Here are a few reasons why enrolling in an online MBA program with a concentration in business intelligence might be a beneficial decision for you and your career goals.


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Business is only going to keep heading in a data-centric direction.

Possessing strong business acumen will always be important, but today’s executives are looking for leaders with expertise in data analytics. Businesses today have unprecedented access to big data – more so than ever before. We generate inconceivable amounts of data every single day. And from a study by management consulting company Accenture, 79 percent of companies believe failing to embrace big data will make them lose their competitive edge. The bottom line: Professionals with business intelligence knowledge are in high demand and have access to more career opportunities.

Because of this increase in big data, businesses aren’t “going with their gut” when it comes to big decisions like they used to. They’re leading with data, and the best way to do that successfully is by working with analysts and business intelligence experts who can make sense of big data and communicate its meaning to all key stakeholders.

Big data can help a business measure success, determine future risks, improve customer service, and so much more. Data can improve large-scale manufacturing and supply chain processes, and it can tell a retail company exactly what its customers click on while online shopping, leading to more targeted advertising campaigns.

Business intelligence is an in-demand field.

The need for professionals with business intelligence, business analysis, and data analysis skills is growing faster than demand can be met, which makes an MBA degree with a focus on business intelligence a lucrative one. These grads bring to the table the leadership skills required to find and use big data effectively. They understand how to analyze data, but they also have the business chops needed to take that data and turn it into a strategic and sensible plan. As a result, business intelligence experts are a powerful mixture of technical aptitude and business acumen. It’s a very attractive combination.

The median salary for a data analyst is $69,517; for a business analyst, it’s $77,218, both according to the employment website Glassdoor. The company also recently included both positions in its recent Top Jobs for 2021 report. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, data analyst jobs are expected to grow by 25 percent between 2020 to 2030.

A business intelligence concentration can set you apart from other MBA grads.

MBA programs teach students and professionals how to excel as business leaders. They learn how to analyze business problems, make sound decisions, and oversee employees; and they’re prepared for the demanding role of running a successful business. Areas of study typically cover accounting, marketing, finance, economics, and management.

Adding a concentration in business intelligence to an MBA program gives students an edge when it comes to learning how to make smart, data-driven business decisions. The concentration focus is still business-minded, but with the addition of a heavy dose of enterprise systems and data analysis coursework. Courses cover enterprise software, business process re-engineering, data management, data analytics, and more.

With a business intelligence concentration, MBA students learn to use data collection tools such as SQL (a programming language that helps analysts extract database information), and data analysis programs like Tableau, SAP Lumira, and MS Excel. Data visualization is another big element of the MBA concentration: Beyond collecting, managing, and analyzing data, students learn how to present their findings in a clear manner. The ability to communicate data is a key element of business intelligence mastery – a collaboration with other departments and key stakeholders is what gets everyone on the same page.

You can study business intelligence or data analysis through other postgraduate programs, but under the umbrella of an MBA program, you receive the business/business intelligence skill combination that many hiring managers admire.

A business intelligence concentration can broaden your career opportunities.

Students who graduate from an MBA program in business intelligence can pursue professional roles as data analysts, business analysts, business consultants, business application developers, and more. These leadership roles are available across several industries, from marketing and healthcare to investment and government.

Data analysts use data to help companies make better business decisions; business analysts also collect and analyze data, but their analysis stems from more of a business perspective than a strictly data-focused one, and business application developers create business-related applications software programs. Business consultants can encompass several of the roles described above; they usually work with a company on a consulting basis to help analyze data and use it to drive strategy.

Online business intelligence programs provide freedom and flexibility.

One of the main benefits of MBA programs with a business intelligence concentration is that they're increasingly available online, including at Suffolk University, one of The Princeton Review’s Best Business Schools in 2021. By pursuing an MBA online in business intelligence, you can keep working full-time. And many online programs feature an accelerated curriculum, meaning you may earn your master’s degree faster than your peers. Many of your fellow students will also be working professionals, so your online cohort may present some pretty lucrative networking opportunities while you’re studying.


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