Data is the currency of 21st-century business. Yet, a recent survey by market research firm Gartner finds that 87 percent of firms have low business intelligence and data analytics maturity. This puts the companies at a disadvantage in the race to apply machine learning and other advanced data technologies to improve business processes.
Businesses, industries and governments create huge amounts of information. The quickest way for them to close the data analytics gap is to recruit people skilled at converting massive amounts of raw data that supports sound business decision-making. In short, this is what a management analyst does.
What Is a Management Analyst?
Management analysts improve an organization’s efficiency and profitability by analyzing existing business processes and recommending changes that save time and eliminate waste. They make their recommendations in written reports, presentations and meetings with managers. However, the most important skill a management analyst possesses is the ability to examine a client’s business problems from a fresh perspective, developing innovative, effective and unique solutions.
Management analysts rely on their ability to mine data and create quantitative models that predict likely business outcomes. They generally work in project teams along with line managers and area experts inside and outside of the organization. Projects focus on specific operations, such as improving inventory management or mapping out a corporate restructuring. While many management analysts are employees, others work as consultants who submit bids for management analytics projects that specify the goals, duration and budget of the analysis.
Why Are Management Analysts Valuable in the Marketplace?
Many companies make the same serious mistake when they attempt to answer the question, What is a management analyst? They become so enamored with analytics and similar technologies that they downplay the importance of the position’s management component. In fact, organizations aren’t reinventing themselves as digital-first entities so much as learning how to put new data analytics tools to use. The skills organizations require emphasize managing organizational change and leadership rather than simply devising a technology road map for digital transformation.
That’s why degree programs, such as the online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, focus on the need to support managerial decision-making via a range of analytics tools and management techniques. In addition to coursework in quantitative modeling, predictive analytics and other technical subjects, the program offers courses in management and leadership skills, including Organizational Change, Leadership and Teamwork, Strategy Analytics and Supply Chain Risk Management. The MSBA program is designed to prepare students for communicating analytics-based business strategies to managers and supplying them with the information they need to make smart business decisions.
Job Duties, Useful Skills and Usual Work Environment
Management analysts need to understand all aspects of the business problems they try to solve, and they need to know how to communicate that understanding to senior managers. They then compile data relevant to the problem and choose the analytics tools and approaches that they will apply to the data.
Data collection entails interviews with managers and employees; on-site observations of processes, equipment and personnel; analysis of financial, operations and employment data; and recommendations of more efficient procedures, new equipment and organizational changes. Once management analysts share their recommendations with managers through reports, presentations and meetings, they follow up with managers to determine how well the new processes and structures work.
Figures compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate that 30 percent of management analysts work in professional, scientific and technical services, while 17 percent are self-employed and another 17 percent work for the government. While they complete most of their work in an office, they also visit job sites and other operating areas of the organization, traveling to client sites or to off-site meetings. In addition to communication skills and managerial experience, management analysts must be familiar with the latest data analytics software and methods, which requires a commitment to lifelong learning.
Salary and Job Growth Statistics
The BLS reports that the median annual salary for management analysts was $83,610 in 2018; the highest 10 percent earned $152,760 annually. The Bureau projects the number of management analyst jobs to increase by 14 percent between 2016 and 2026. This is faster than the projected 7 percent growth rate for the overall labor force during the 10-year period. U.S. News & World Report rates job satisfaction for management analysts as above average in terms of complexity and responsibility. For work-life balance and flexibility, management analysts rate their job satisfaction as high, according to U.S. News & World Report.
How to Become a Management Analyst
Knowing what a management analyst is helps determine the first steps in a career in this role. A degree such as the online MSBA from the University of Maryland is designed to teach skills that prepare students for management consulting positions, regardless of their level of business experience. The BLS notes that employers prefer to hire candidates who have a master’s in business administration or a related field, including economics, computer and information science, finance, accounting or marketing.
While management analysts aren’t required to earn a certification, the Institute of Management Consultants USA offers the Certified Management Consultant designation to demonstrate to potential employers competence in technology, ethics and project management, among other topics. The BLS notes that management analysts often enter the field with several years of work experience in a specialty, such as accounting or market research.
Continuing Education and Advancing as a Management Analyst
Management analysts work at the forefront of businesses that use advanced technologies. On the horizon are algorithms that make possible prescriptive analytics, which not only predicts future markets but also suggest the actions to take to capitalize on those forecasts. Staying up to date on new technologies affecting businesses is a prime responsibility of management analysts. In a matter of years, these professionals will need to apply machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence to improve business processes and enhance organizational efficiency.
As they gain experience, management analysts take on more responsibility and often take leading roles in managing large projects, including direct management of project team members. The BLS describes two general career paths for management analysts. In the first, they become partners in consulting firms after honing their skills, and in the second they rise to senior-level consulting positions.
Management Analyst: Where Tech and Business Skills Meet
All the technology in the world won’t help a company that lacks a sound business strategy and the resources to implement it successfully. Likewise, the brightest business minds can be undone by the arrival of new technologies that fundamentally alter the business landscape. A management analyst can serve as a bridge between the data organizations depend on and the business planning that ensures organizations meet their goals.
Data analytics will continue to play a greater role in determining what a management analyst is and how the position impacts business decisions. The online MSBA degree from Maryland Smith is tailored to ensure that graduates possess the technical and management skills they need to succeed as management analysts. Contact the University of Maryland to find out more about the online MSBA degree program.