In this blog, I have carped ad nauseam about how IT pros, in order to succeed, should be able to understand the business and how technology fits into it. It’s no longer enough to sit back and present a technology solution when there is a problem. Successful IT pros pitch technology solutions before stakeholders even know there is a need.

This brings us to Business Intelligence. If ever there was a career that fits into the need to mesh technology and business success, it is BI. BI enables companies to organize and access their information in order to make better business decisions.

This trend has a wealth of career opportunities. But, according to Jason Dove, writing for, there are five main areas a Business Intelligence specialist needs to be proficient in.

  1. Relational databases – You have to understand how relational databases work. There are limits to what you can achieve by just working to the table schema provided by the database developer.
  2. SQL – Dove says, “It is possible to have a successful Business Intelligence career and never be able to write a line of SQL, but it can certainly make it easier when trying to solve more complex problems.”
  3. Basic programming skills – Reporting software has an underlying scripting language similar to how Excel has macros.
  4. Knowledge of reporting software – With reporting software, it’s more important that you understand the theory behind rather than having an intimate knowledge of all the software out there. However, Dove does recommend Crystal Reports because it’s the most popular and wide-spread in use.
  5. Analysis skills – Dove recommends this skill with some reticence. BI analysis is different from what is generally considered “analysis” in the IT industry. Also, Dove recommends this skill with some reticence, conceding that the science is so new that there aren’t any books or resources to explain it yet.