Online MBA Programs in Business Intelligence

The modern economy requires the ability to manage vast amounts of information. Being able to analyze complex data, gain insights, and guide business decisions toward critical objectives are professional skills in high demand.

A Master of Business Administration in Business Intelligence can help you understand how to embrace data-based leadership, contextualize and analyze information for patterns, and seek out the results your organization needs. By taking advantage of today’s robust technology, you’ll learn to solve problems by examining the relationship between business-relevant information and organizational challenges.

A business intelligence program offers the opportunity to advance your career while gaining increasingly relevant skills, and it can be done in a flexible manner. This page covers the most important considerations for those interested in this program.

What Is an MBA in Business Intelligence?

An MBA with a concentration in business intelligence prepares leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs to use data to maximize their effectiveness. It teaches students how to think through data analysis and manage outcomes to optimize customer relations, monitor business activity, and support key decision-making. These abilities separate average professionals from exceptional visionaries who maximize their impact on the workplace. An MBA in business intelligence is for those seeking to understand big data and actively use it for continuous improvement.

An online MBA program in business intelligence provides students with technical expertise and sharp problem-solving skills. Graduates gain proficiency in MS Access, SQL, Data Warehouse, and other database technologies and learn practical data visualization, communication, and general presentation skills.

Students considering an MBA in business intelligence should examine whether they feel comfortable handling sensitive information and making key decisions. For those who thrive in roles where high levels of both competency and responsibility, this type of program provides many potential career opportunities.

Online MBA in Business Intelligence Curriculum

The curriculum of an online MBA in business intelligence typically focuses on data and information management, data presentation and visualization, and decision methods and modeling. These skills encourage well-informed identification of patterns, relationships, and opportunities that lead to positive impacts on business strategies and tactics. Other courses in the program teach communication and leadership skills integral to effective leadership and decision making.

A business intelligence MBA includes courses such as:

  • Foundations of Data
  • Decision Methods and Modeling
  • Presentation and Visualization of Data
  • Enterprise Data Management
  • Data Management and Modeling
  • Business Intelligence and Data Analytics

Because this program is a concentration, there’s a reasonable overlap with foundational courses for an MBA in business administration, which includes basic courses such as:

  • Mathematics and Statistics for Business
  • Economics for Business
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis
  • Business Law
  • Human Behavior in Organizations

Looking closer at some of the courses in this curriculum hints at the complex analytical skills that an MBA in business intelligence requires students to develop.

  • Foundations of Data: In this course, students learn how to examine the impact of big data on business, including ethics and privacy, and make use of analytic tools and techniques.
  • Decision Methods and Modeling: Students learn how to evaluate data in context and interpret trends, eventually leading to an overview of predictive modeling, risk assessment, and analytics algorithms, which lays the groundwork for more advanced data analysis.
  • Presentation and Visualization of Data: Students learn how to arrange the technical information from their data analysis into reports, presentations, and visual dashboards in a way that can be understood by their intended audience.

Although there are similarities in the business intelligence and business management MBA curricula, the overall learning objectives of these two concentrations are distinct. Business management picks up where undergraduate business administration courses left off, building upon that knowledge with advanced classes in topics such as management ethics, executive organization, and e-business. The goal is far less technical and more entrepreneurial.

What Unique Career Paths Can I Pursue With an Online MBA in Business Intelligence?

Graduates from an MBA program with a concentration in business intelligence have a versatile skill set valued by many employers. The increased use of technology and consumer data to manage operations pressures organizations to have knowledgeable business professionals on board. The demand for someone who has the knowhow to communicate across work groups, who can develop intelligent strategies to meet company objectives, and who understands big-picture trends is highly valued. Attaining your MBA in business intelligence online readies you to take advantage of this need.

While the diverse knowledge gained from an MBA in business intelligence lets graduates follow many career paths, some of the top jobs include:

Research Analyst

Research analysts employ advanced mathematical modeling and analytical techniques to help organizations find solutions to complex problems and make better current and future decisions1. Research analysts can be found across various sectors such as marketing, business operations, finance, and government. While job responsibilities may differ by industry, they are typically responsible for the following:

  • Identify and solve problems in the logistics, health care, and business fields (among others)
  • Gather and organize database information, such as customer data
  • Analyze information using advanced statistical analysis and modeling to develop practical solutions to business problems
  • Advise decision makers about the effects of certain courses of action
  • Report to managers, executives, and other organization members

The salary for a research analyst can vary by the type of position as well as the company and location. A popular choice among those with business intelligence training is an operations research analyst position, which specializes in doing the tough calculations to reduce costs and increase organizational efficiency. In the US, the median annual wage for an operations research analyst was $83,390 per year in May 2018.1

Management Consultant

Management consultants, also called management analysts, are responsible for providing advice on how to run an organization more efficiently to increase its profitability2. Most management consultants work for the companies they analyze, but some work independently and meet privately with their clients on a contractual basis. Some choose to specialize in a particular industry, such as government or telecommunications. Management consultants are expected to:

  • Gather and organize information relevant to business problems
  • Conduct interviews with on-site personnel to gain insights into best practices
  • Analyze revenue, expenditures, and other financial data
  • Devise solutions or alternate strategies
  • Recommend organizational changes
  • Advise management using presentations and visual reports
  • Communicate with managers to monitor the effectiveness of new changes

The median annual wage of a management consultant was $83,610 in May 2018, per a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The projections from 2016 to 2026 show a 14 percent increase in the field’s employment, which is faster than the occupational average.2

Computer and Information Research Scientist

Often broadly categorized as data scientists, computer and information research scientists use computing technology to design new problem-solving approaches3. They’re able to work in many fields besides business, such as science and medicine. They make improvements to computer software and hardware by working with complex algorithms and computer architecture to improve efficiency, creating new technological advancements in networking technology, computing speed, and information security. Computer and information research scientists are usually expected to:

  • Explore fundamental computing issues and develop theories to solve them
  • Assist scientists with challenging problems
  • Invent new methods of working with computers, such as computing languages
  • Develop and improve integral software systems
  • Design and test newly developed software systems
  • Analyze and publish experimental results
  • Publish in academic journals and present at conferences

Computer and information research analysts had a median annual wage of $118,370 in May 2018, with 3 in 10 analysts working more than 40 hours per week.3

Should I Get an Online MBA in Business Intelligence?

If you’re considering enrolling in an accredited MBA program in business intelligence online, be certain that self-discipline isn’t an issue and do enough research to plan out a solid career path so that you’re motivated to learn the course material and apply it in the future. This particular concentration is suitable for ambitious, highly competent researchers, innovators, and problem solvers. Before committing to an MBA program in business intelligence, take the following considerations into account.

Online MBA in Business Intelligence vs. an Online MBA in Data Science

While an MBA in either business intelligence or data science provides a great pathway to a high-demand career, the two concentrations prepare graduates for different roles within an organization 4. Business intelligence focuses more on historical data, using concrete data to paint an objective picture, whereas data science is more about forecasting to set general expectations and reduce future uncertainty. Consider your career path when choosing between the two. If you’re interested in using big data to piece together factual discoveries instead of make projections, as an operations research analyst might do, business intelligence is the more appropriate choice.

One interesting difference, however, is that business intelligence tends to be more lucrative, with a starting salary of about $87,000 compared to data science’s $80,000.4 The barrier to entry is lower for the former, too.

Online MBA in Business Intelligence vs. an MS in Business Intelligence

As you might have concluded, either an MBA or an MS in business intelligence prepares graduates to handle big data. But the significant difference between the two is that an MS involves more scientific analysis than the MBA program, which itself, as mentioned earlier, is more science-oriented than an MBA in business management5. (On a spectrum of increasing scientific focus from left to right, a business management MBA is on the left, a business intelligence MBA is in the middle, and a business intelligence MS is way to the right.)

Courses in the MS curriculum cover topics such as cyber analytics, statistical modeling, and data visualization.5 Being able to interpret data is paramount in this program. When choosing between the MBA or MS in business intelligence, consider whether your interest is skewed toward the analytical side of problem solving.

Are you an organized, detail-oriented person?

In many positions, such as analyst jobs, a team of people are counting on someone to make sense of the flood of data coming their way. They base their decisions on the information provided, and if it’s wrong because of a slipup or oversight, the consequences could affect the entire organization. If the sight of an Excel spreadsheet or Access database makes you nervous, business intelligence may not be a good fit.

Are you more technical or entrepreneurial?

If you’re prepared for the business side but barely interested in analytical studies, a data-driven course of study is likely to cause frustration, and you would be better of choosing a traditional business program.

Can you remain self-motivated enough to handle an MBA student’s workload?

Though achievable more quickly than some other degree programs, earning an MBA requires just as much discipline and dedication. If you have other commitments that will interfere with the hours of concentrated study you’ll need every week, it may be best to hold off on enrollment. Fortunately, some programs offer enough scheduling flexibility to overcome this issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before applying to an MBA program, make sure you chart a career course and are fully interested in it. After that, start looking into programs that provide the necessary credentials for your desired career. Common questions about online MBA programs in business intelligence include:

Are online MBA programs always at accredited institutions?

Not always. Employers place higher value on degrees from accredited programs, so it’s critical to obtain your MBA from an reputable institution. DiscoverBusiness.us lists programs with accreditation from the AACSB, AMBA, or EQUIS.

What if I haven’t taken the GMAT?

While many MBA programs have a minimum GMAT eligibility score, quite a few schools are waving the GMAT requirement. You may be able to enroll without taking the test.

Is it better to obtain my MBA in a classroom setting instead of online?

Some students thrive in independent environments, while others need the structure and accountability of meeting face to face in a physical classroom. If you have the self-discipline and determination, an online MBA program provides a convenient way to advance your education and career.

How long does it take to earn an online MBA in business intelligence?

Online learning provides more flexibility than regular classroom learning, but a manageable pace for most students is two years. For those with more time available, accelerated MBA programs can be completed in a matter of six to eight weeks.


References:
1 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/operations-research-analysts.htm
2 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm
3 https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm
4 https://online.sju.edu/graduate/masters-business-intelligence/resources/articles/data-science-or-business-intelligence
5 https://www.bschools.org/blog/mba-alternatives-ms-business-intelligence

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