In business analytics, an organization’s data and performance are examined to gain insights and make data-driven decisions with the help of statistical analysis tools and practices. Business analytics determines which datasets can increase revenue, productivity and efficiency. By utilizing business analytics, organizations can make evidence-based and data-driven decisions and develop sound strategies to gain a competitive edge. In addition, organizations that consistently and successfully apply business analytics develop a data culture that continues to attract highly trained and experienced data professionals.
Consider these statistics:
- “Companies that are using data-driven B2B sales-growth engines report above-market growth and EBITDA increases in the range of 15 to 25 percent,” according to McKinsey & Company.
- Of respondents in data-leading companies, 73.5% across the world say their decision-making is always data-driven, according to Forbes.
The real test of a company is not its data but how it is applied. A business professional with knowledge in data and business analytics can apply data for decision-making. Fitchburg State University’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Business Analytics Management program prepares graduates for this responsibility. Here, we look at three general areas of application of business analytics in today’s corporate environments.
1. Applied Data Analytics for Strategic Decision-Making
Professionals can apply analytics in four ways to support decision-making at every organizational level. Descriptive analytics interprets data to reveal trends and patterns. Diagnostic analytics aims to determine which elements influence specific trends. While the first two forms of analytics provide a foundation for decision-making, the next two get into the actual process of making smarter decisions with consistently strong outcomes over time. Predictive analytics applies statistical models to make accurate business forecasts using the results of descriptive analytics. Finally, prescriptive analytics recommends specific actions using deep learning and historical data.
Using internal and external data, data-driven organizations identify and prioritize revenue-generating and business-building opportunities throughout the customer life cycle. Outperforming data cultures, according to McKinsey, identify opportunity clusters where data analytics can help them to vault ahead of competitors. They then use expected value — a key data point — from each planned initiative as the common currency for prioritization.
Self-service analytics is another hallmark of outperforming data cultures. These companies empower professionals at every level with tools to find answers and uncover actionable insights that drive their daily decisions. For example, in marketing and sales, outperformers provide data to representatives on how to approach and win with high-value opportunities.
A course called Applied Data Analytics for Business Decision Making in Fitchburg State’s MBA in Business Analytics Management online program introduces students to data literacy and quantitative skills using Tableau. It addresses “data fundamentals, statistical thinking, and communicating with data by creating and interpreting data visualizations to make business decisions.”
2. Qualitative Analysis and Ethical Use of Analytics Data
Subjective judgment comes into play with analytics, as non-quantifiable, intangible and inexact information is used to better understand business prospects and value. Common use cases include evaluating leaders’ performance, understanding consumer impressions of brands, revealing competitive advantages, exploring industry cycles and improving labor relations. Qualitative analysis is also applied to quantitative data to make subjective interpretations of historical data and performance metrics to identify trends and patterns. This allows for a big-picture qualitative assessment of past and current performance using data collection and mining.
The program’s course titled Business Analytics: Quality, Ethics and Law centers on the significance of qualitative analysis, ethics and law in business analytics. Topics include social networking, social media research ethics and qualitative research methodology for online communities. The class also covers “uses and misuses of artificial intelligence, how personal data is recorded, analyzed, used and sold; the ethics of big data analytics, networks of control, profiling, discrimination, structural violence, human rights, international affairs, cyberattacks, terrorism, domestic and international politics, economy, forced consent, EU legislation” and more.
3. Creating and Managing Business Analytics Projects
The program’s Managing Business Analytics course offers an overview of employing analytics in business and provides a roadmap for defining and running business analytics projects. Through this course and several others, graduates of the program learn to support the maturation of a data-centric culture through internal training sessions, consultative workshops and the development of data assets that everyone in an organization or department can use to become more data-driven.
Graduates of Fitchburg State’s program are in high demand because they can successfully manage analytics projects and leverage best practices, prioritize action steps, build strategic roadmaps, communicate findings and cultivate support for ongoing business analytics investments.