A business intelligence consultant helps companies adopt and learn new strategies for organizing computer data. He or she sets up new software and improves existing systems to make it easier to manage information. Consultants combine their knowledge of technology and business management to improve efficiency, boost profits, and reduce operating costs. Most professionals work for private consulting firms, but some experts are self-employed freelance contractors.
In order to compete in the modern business world, companies need to utilize up-to-date, efficient information technology systems. A business intelligence consultant can help company owners identify the shortcomings of their current systems and suggest ways to improve them. When first meeting with a new client, a consultant usually spends time working through existing software programs and pointing out problems. He or she explains how information gaps, lagging computers, and outdated technology are affecting the business at a fundamental level. Once all problems have been identified, the consultant can set up a demo to show the client how new hardware and software makes data easier to manage.
By implementing a new system, a business intelligence consultant can help improve a company's ability to make smart decisions. He or she may improve such areas as the accessibility of sales records, employee profiles, accounting programs, and customer information. In addition, the consultant sets up programs that make it easier to understand past and current figures and predict future successes.
A consultant may also spend time at a company after systems have been set up to provide employee training. He or she can provide helpful hints on how to quickly access important data and use programs to produce meaningful graphs, charts, and documents. Many consultants revisit clients periodically over months or years to make sure they are satisfied with their new business intelligence systems.
There are no strict requirements to become this type of consultant, but most firms prefer to hire individuals who hold college degrees in a related specialty. A degree in computer science, information technology, or business administration can be very helpful in finding a job as an entry-level consultant. In addition, previous work experience in a business setting is highly valued by most employers.
An experienced business intelligence consultant usually has many opportunities for advancement. Some workers become supervisors or lead consultants within their firms where they perform more administrative duties and fewer hands-on projects. Supervisors set up appointments, meet with potential clients, and explain the benefits of bringing in consultants. A worker who has several years of professional experience may even be able to start his or her own business.