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Over the past couple of years we’ve seen a big shift in what employers want from business intelligence and data gurus. Once thought of as a group of clever but peculiar number crunches, BI departments are now well understood and a driving force in key decision-making processes.

Below I’ll discuss three key areas that I’ve seen change recently, and some of the technical and soft skills employers need to tackle these changes.

Using data discovery and visualisation to enable better decision making

A recent report from, listed visualisation and data discovery as the most important BI trend for 2017.

This is reflected in many local organisations in the Hunter Region as they shift away from traditional reporting practices. Rather than the long, tedious reports that were once commonplace, executive teams and management now want highly visual, easy to interpret, actionable data.

But it’s no longer enough just to provide the analytics, BI teams are now actively involved in driving good decision making, so finding meaning in data and driving knowledge discovery is critical.

Skills in need – companies I work with increasingly request people with strong visualisation skills, who can present data in a logical way. Those professionals with experience in contemporary visualisation tools like Tableau, Birst and QlikView and MicroStrategy are most desirable.

Data mining skills are also hot right now. Companies need intuitive people who can navigate complex data, extract key information and effectively present it to drive knowledge discovery.

Decentralisation of data controls through self-service BI

As business units increase their demand for data based insights, IT departments are struggling to keep up. To combat this problem companies are developing systems and tools to enable their users to access data analytics directly.

Some of the larger companies in our region as well as smart SMEs are investing in people that can lead and manage this change, allowing everyone to share data and self-service.

Skills in need – employers are looking for BI professionals with a strong understanding self-service tools such as Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE), Business Objects (BO), and IBM Cognos, that allow the business user to view and create queries.

But technical knowledge is not enough. To find solutions to increase user interdependence BI gurus need to be expert communicators and critical thinkers. And to keep up with users changing needs they must be flexible and agile.

Maintaining data quality and security as access increases

It may not be the coolest BI trend, but data quality is increasingly important for many organisations I speak with. As they say, rubbish in, rubbish out.

Bringing together data on suppliers, products and customers from different sources to provide actionable and holistic insights is a top priority. But given the amount of data and the number of disparate sources from which data is being gathered, ensuring that its accurate, consistent and secure is highly important.

Skills in need – Enterprises are seeking professionals with BI governance and data management experience, those who know how to define clear roles and responsibilities to manage each data domain. Experience either implementing or working within the ISO 27001 framework is a big tick too.

They want people who can lead governance and security initiatives to uphold data quality whilst the demand for flexibility and real-time access increases.


If you work in one of these fields and would like to know more about potential opportunities, salary expectations or career pathways I’d love to hear from you via email or phone 0448 811 091.


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