Growing businesses have a lot of decisions to make, all while keeping an eye on the bottom line. From staffing and software to marketing and operations, decisions need to be well informed, which means data is essential.
Data can be unruly, however, and translating numbers into reports and insights isn’t in everyone’s wheelhouse. That’s why more and more small businesses are turning to freelance Business Intelligence (BI) analysts to help them get a handle on their data and turn that data into actionable insights.
In our article What Is Business Intelligence?, we discussed what BI is, how it’s evolving, and how it’s helping to fuel today’s increasingly data-driven mindset. Here, we’ll look at how top-rated Upwork freelancer and Power BI developer Stephanie Embree helps her small-business clients move the needle with data—and how BI analysis can enable you to do the same.
What Does a BI Analyst Do?
BI analysts are liaisons between you and your data. If you have unanswered questions, they know where to look to answer them. If you have goals, they know the data to pull to help guide your strategy. If your data is a black box you don’t even know the contents of, they can help with that too.
From a nuts-and-bolts perspective, BI analysts will merge all your data from various sources and use software to pull analytics to find patterns and trends. Those insights are delivered back to you in reports and visualizations—“data storytelling” that’s easy to process and share.
BI analysts have both technical and data backgrounds. Embree’s background was in Microsoft SQL when she began experimenting with visualization tools, which led her to Microsoft Power BI. There are lots of business intelligence tools out there, but Embree gravitated to Power BI for its ease of use and integrations with third-party apps and services. She’s found the pricing model aligns well with SMBs’ needs, and it’s intuitive, therefore easy to train clients to use.
3. Merge disparate data sources for a better view of your business.
Modern data doesn’t always fit neatly into tables—and it can take a bit of work to make different data sources logically connect. Analysts can help with this, drawing connections you can’t get just by simply sifting through a spreadsheet. Embree says this is a big part of her work. “For most of my projects, I have to connect at least three data sources, but I’m constantly bringing together data from different sources.” These could be HubSpot and QuickBooks, as in the earlier example, or SharePoint, a spreadsheet, Salesforce, or data on a local computer.
“A client with a delivery service wanted more visibility into how they were doing: tracking how on-time delivery drivers were and how it affected customer experience ratings, results of surveys, and ultimately, sales.” This required Embree to compile a number of disparate data sources that weren’t necessarily congruent to paint a full picture.
Upwork is a freelancing website where businesses of all sizes can find talented professionals across multiple disciplines and categories. If you are a business and are looking to get projects done, consider signing up!