darren whittingham - Fotolia

Communication skills a must for business intelligence professionals

Today's enterprises want business intelligence managers and staffers with good communication skills and a solid understanding of the business, advises careers expert Matt Mueller.

What qualifications and capabilities are organizations seeking the most in business intelligence professionals when looking to fill open positions these days?

The No. 1 capability we hear from our clients when searching for either full-time hires or consultants to work on BI projects may be a surprise: communication skills. An effective BI manager, architect or developer must be able to have a productive discussion with a nontechnical business user or executive stakeholder. 

The ability to interact with the business is critical now. Business intelligence professionals are expected to have a balance of business and technology skills, and they're expected to understand the business and be able to gather requirements and develop BI applications that deliver what the business needs. As a result, more and more companies are looking for BI professionals who are comfortable working with their business counterparts and can provide recommendations and insights to help create innovative -- and useful -- BI systems. 

More and more companies are looking for BI professionals who are comfortable working with their business counterparts.

The No. 1 qualification is experience with the BI tools, technologies, platforms, etc., that the organization is using. Hiring managers want someone who can hit the ground running and do the job immediately, without a lot of training. I, personally, don't agree with the notion that business intelligence professionals need to be versed in using the exact tool set that a company has in place. A tool is a tool, and many of the most prominent BI and extract, transform and load (ETL) tools are very similar to one another. A sharp BI developer should be able to pick up new BI or ETL software in a few weeks, at most.

One other attribute to consider is career progression: Organizations want someone who can grow within their companies. Too many short stints at different employers won't reflect well on a job candidate, as it can be difficult to make significant contributions if one is always moving from company to company.

Next Steps

More advice from Matt Mueller: Get the right big data skills

How to gain big data expertise

Survey shows salaries vary widely for business intelligence professionals

Dig Deeper on Business intelligence team