The field of data science focuses on the most efficient and effective approaches to identify and analyze data. When companies need to make strategic decisions informed by those analytics, they turn to business intelligence (BI) experts. BI professionals rely on a range of analytical tools to deliver timely information quickly.

According to a 2017 industry report, business intelligence jobs are growing and projected to increase; an average BI analyst salary is reported to be around $71,700, while an average salary for a full-time BI professional is around $112,300. “Decisions made from the information provided by experts in business intelligence can have an immediately quantifiable return on investment,” said Joey Langone in the Robert Half Technology blog.

Making an Impact

Here are profiles of six of the most prominent BI thought leaders and their insights into this growing field.

Cindi Howson, Research Vice President at Gartner

Companies are increasingly worried about a shortage of analytical talent, and the competition for business intelligence talent will come down to survival of the best, according to Cindi Howson, who has written extensively about the field for Gartner.

“The best employers will attract and retain those analytically savvy workers,” said Howson, author of “Successful Business Intelligence: Unlock the Value of BI & Big Data.”

Howson is founder of BI Scorecard, a source of BI tool reviews based on hands-on testing. At Gartner, she specializes in visual data discovery, cloud BI, mobile BI and best practices for bigger impact from business analytics.

Howson began her career in BI at Dow Chemical in Switzerland before working for Deloitte & Touche. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in management information systems.

Boris Evelson, Vice President, Principal Analyst for Application Development and Delivery at Forrester

Boris Evelson, a business intelligence expert for more than 30 years, believes that in a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish competing goods and services due to commoditization, companies must be agile in using data technologies and analytics to respond to sudden changes in consumer behavior.

At Forrester, Evelson helps enterprises define BI strategies, governance and architectures, and identify the right vendors and technologies. He said companies that invest in BI, on average, grow faster than competitors who don’t.

Before joining Forrester, Evelson was a co-founder and managing partner at Textra, led internal BI initiatives at JPMorgan/LabMorgan and worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Citibank.

Claudia Imhoff, President and Founder of Intelligent Solutions, Inc.

Essential to business intelligence is the ability to share analytics and enhance findings with context and related information to make more accurate decisions, said Claudia Imhoff, a big supporter of collaborative BI at Intelligent Solutions.

“If you’re looking at something in isolation, you may miss something,” Imhoff said at a data warehouse and BI summit in Amsterdam. “The ability to collaborate while doing business intelligence is so much better.”

Imhoff is the founder of the Boulder BI Brain Trust, which facilitates an exchange of information on new trends and technologies between vendors and independent analysts and consultants.

Imhoff is a Data Warehousing Institute faculty member and advises several technology companies. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science and a doctorate in biomedical science.

Rick Sherman, Founder and President of Athena IT Solutions

Business intelligence tools help enterprises analyze data, but end users need to be sure they are using the right tools, according to Rick Sherman, who has written extensively on the subject in his popular blog, The Data Doghouse.

“When the vendor tells you the tool can solve a host of problems, understand that it’s probably an exaggeration unless your needs are very simple and static,” the Athena IT Solutions founder said in a recent blog on self-service BI. “Set the right expectations and make sure you understand all the nuances.”

Before launching Athena IT Solutions, Sherman was a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers and worked at Digital Equipment Corporation, Norton and Bristol Meyers Squibb. He holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering.

Howard Dresner, Founder and Chief Research Officer of Dresner Advisory Services

Companies dealing with big data are increasingly embracing cloud business intelligence, according to Howard Dresner, the chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services.

Dresner’s annual BI report, the 2017 Cloud Computing and Business Intelligence Market Study, found 31 percent of respondents currently use cloud BI, a six percent increase over last year. Forty percent plan to increase spending on private cloud and 34 percent on public cloud platforms.

“We believe that cloud business intelligence, particularly public cloud offerings, will continue to move into the mainstream,” Dresner said.

He is a former chief strategy officer for Hyperion Solutions and has worked at Gartner and Digital Equipment Corporation. He studied at both Harvard University and Long Island University.

Julie Koesmarno, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft

Julie Koesmarno tracks her “journey in data, business intelligence and the SQL world” through her popular msSQLgirl blog.

Koesmarno, a senior program manager in data platforms at Microsoft, is considered one of the “Top 9 Women Influencers in Business Intelligence & Data Analytics,” according to Solutions Review.

She is an expert on the use of Microsoft’s SQL Server 2016 and Azure SQL Database tools, which allow users to interact with large volumes of data, create dynamic reports and mashups, and gain insights from data visualizations.

Koesmarno is a former SQL Server and BI consultant for LobsterPot Solutions and has worked with Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. She holds a bachelor’s in information technology.

As organizations seek to make the most of their data, business intelligence specialists can look forward to a variety of exciting job opportunities in the years to come. Learn more about business intelligence and explore the possibilities of a career in data science.