Hiring a BI Manager – Trends and Challenges

With all the talk of big data and data science being able to predict what colour shirt someone will buy in four years’ time, effective business intelligence is sometimes passed by or considered old news.

The reality is that companies are realising that they can get much more from their business intelligence and are changing their strategies to deliver interactive, insight-driven and visualised reports. Not every data-driven decision needs machine learning algorithms behind it, and quality business intelligence enables all managers to be effective decision-makers. These strategies are creating some obvious trends in the market, resulting in a change in expectations when hiring a BI Manager.

Key BI Trends

  • Data Visualisation – Companies of all sizes are implementing Qlikview and Tableau (amongst many other tools) to create attractive, interactive visualisations, to harness intelligence, in a way that will capture attention in a presentation.
  • Insight Driven – A BI professional can’t simply develop automated reports anymore. Analysts are often required to offer suggestions for business change and present insight to decision makers.
  • Hands-on Management – BI managers and even heads of business intelligence are expected to keep coding well into their management years, with the logic that problems can be spotted quicker when they are in the trenches, coupled with strategic and line management work.
  • Data Ambassadors – BI professionals are becoming door-to-door data sellers, coaching teams in a business on the benefits of using data to optimise their teams and decisions to save or bring in more money.
  • Heads are in the Cloud – Companies are using cloud-based data warehouses such as Redshift to save on storage costs, whilst creating a centralised data warehouse for BI.
  • Alternative Data Sources – Companies are looking to use the web and social media data, alongside numerous other sources to generate deep insights for managers.

The BI Manager Effect

I am completely sold that all of these features represent the future of business intelligence. The few companies that are doing all of the above well enough, are doing advanced work in the area and these companies will be leveraging big commercial gains from their business intelligence teams.

The problem is that only a few businesses are doing all of the above, so only a handful of professionals have the relevant experience, and as a result expect top dollar to bring all of those skills. Therefore, it is prudent to be flexible with your hiring requirements. Look for a bright, passionate candidate, who can readily grasp the shift in business intelligence trends, and is keen to plug skills gaps. An enthusiastic business intelligence professional will get up to speed with whatever they were missing. Don’t be too quick to dismiss those who are not ready-made BI managers on paper.

Message to Candidates

For all aspirational or existing business intelligence managers and leaders, I would advise you try to stay hands on as long as possible. I know some of you dream of never seeing a line of SQL code again, however, the trend in hiring for hands-on business intelligence management positions means that keeping your tech skills sharp will really keep your options open moving forward. It would be great to hear your experiences, so please feel free to comment below on the trends you see in your business.

Have you needed to remain hands on as you progress within your career? Or are you looking for a multi-skilled BI manager, and it is proving hard? Get in touch with one of our Harnham consultants today.

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