Businesses today are faced with two very stark realities—the world is hyper-competitive, and data drive it. Companies that have the best information make the fewest mistakes, which in turn helps them to stay ahead of the pack.
Today’s digital society, through the explosion of Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT), has produced a ton of information. The challenge is to make any sense of all this data. With all of that information, who can sort out what’s useful and what’s not?
That’s why business analytics is so essential for today’s industries, and business analysts are in such high demand. Today, we’re taking a look at popular business analytics applications, and some of the often-used cases.
Business Analytics Defined
Before launching into the meat of the matter, let’s take a moment to review. What’s the definition of business analytics?
Business analytics involves the collating, sorting, processing, and studying of business-related data using statistical models and iterative methodologies. The ultimate goal is to glean practical and actionable business insights to solve an organization’s problems—boosting efficiency, productivity, and revenue.
Note that there’s a difference between business analytics and business intelligence (BI), though they are related. Business intelligence falls within the discipline of business analytics, the process of gathering the needed data from all sources, and preparing it for use by business analysts. In short, BI tells you what’s going on, and business analytics tells you why it’s happening and when it will occur again.
So, a business analyst identifies a company’s weak areas, collects and sifts through data, creates a plan based on those findings, and helps to implement it.
Applying Business Analytics in Industry
Although business analytics is being leveraged in most commercial sectors and industries, the following applications are the most common.
Credit Card CompaniesCredit and debit cards are an everyday part of consumer spending, and they are an ideal way of gathering information about a purchaser’s spending habits, financial situation, behavior trends, demographics, and lifestyle preferences.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)Excellent customer relations is critical for any company that wants to retain customer loyalty to stay in business for the long haul. CRM systems analyze important performance indicators such as demographics, buying patterns, socio-economic information, and lifestyle.
FinanceThe financial world is a volatile place, and business analytics helps to extract insights that help organizations maneuver their way through tricky terrain. Corporations turn to business analysts to optimize budgeting, banking, financial planning, forecasting, and portfolio management.
Human ResourcesAlthough HR is often the punchline of many office jokes, its value in keeping a company successful is not to be underestimated. Great businesses are composed of a great staff, and it’s HR’s job to not only find the ideal candidates but keep them on board. Business analysts help the process by pouring through data that characterizes high performing candidates, such as educational background, attrition rate, the average length of employment, etc. By working with this information, business analysts help HR by forecasting the best fits between the company and candidates.
ManufacturingBusiness analysts work with data to help stakeholders understand the things that affect operations and the bottom line. Identifying things like equipment downtime, inventory levels, and maintenance costs help companies streamline inventory management, risks, and supply-chain management to create maximum efficiency.
MarketingWhich advertising campaigns are the most effective? How much social media penetration should a business attempt? What sort of things do viewers like/dislike in commercials? Business analysts help answer these questions and so many more, by measuring marketing and advertising metrics, identifying consumer behavior and the target audience, and analyzing market trends.
As you can see, business analytics plays a valuable role in many different industries. You may also notice that some of the applications merge into each other, but that’s hardly surprising. By leveraging business analytics, multiple departments and teams can coordinate their efforts based on the information gathered and processed. It’s up to the business analyst to identify roadblocks and areas that need improvement, helping different departments to work together to achieve a common goal.
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Notable Use Cases
Business analytics helps organizations run more efficiently and profitably. Here are six cases where business analytics proves its worth in the commercial sector.
Churn PreventionChurn is the customer attrition rate, a percentage of subscribers, or customers who stop doing business with a company. Successful companies must keep the churn rate low and replace any customer losses that inevitably occur. Furthermore, it’s more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to retain existing ones. By using predictive analysis, a business analyst helps identify customer dissatisfaction and the most likely risks or departure.
E-Commerce PersonalizationOnline businesses, like Amazon, collect, process, and analyze customer data to personalize their customers’ shopping experiences. By customizing the experience, vendors can make recommendations and increase the likelihood of further sales.
Predictive MaintenanceCompanies must face the inevitability of equipment maintenance, both scheduled and unplanned. Business analysts work with data to create metrics about maintenance lifecycles to predict future maintenance needs and avoid costly unplanned downtime.
Insurance Fraud DetectionInsurance fraud is costly to companies and their customers alike. This is especially true in the medical insurance industry, where fraud costs organizations in the US approximately $68 billion a year. Business analysts use big data to process billions of claims and billing records, enabling investigators to identify and mitigate any fraudulent activity.
Automated Candidate PlacementAs mentioned earlier, hiring new staff comes with its share of risks and uncertainty. Business analysts leverage data-driven recruitment platforms to get a better picture of any given candidate—improving the likelihood of a successful job match much faster. In some cases, the information can even help anticipate job needs before a position is posted.
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You Can Be a Business Analyst
Today’s fast-growing digital world is creating a high demand for business analysts. In the United States, for instance, new business analyst job openings are predicted to grow by 800% over 2019, exceeding 2.7 million by the end of 2020. Many professionals even use business analysis as a stepping stone to other rewarding careers in fields like data science.
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