Starbucks, Accenture, Amazon, Splunk, Google, Uber, IBM, and many popular companies use business analytics to personalize product recommendations, land logistical business decisions and better understand markets, customers, and business processes. Not just big brands, nearly 70% of small businesses spend more than $10,000 a year on various types of business analytics.  

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What Is Business Analytics?

Business Analytics is the process of using statistical methods, skills, technologies, and practices to analyze historical data and gain new insight to improve strategic decision-making. This subset of data management solutions employs business intelligence and several methodologies such as data mining, statistical analysis, and predictive analytics. 

Various business analytics types help analyze and transform data into useful information, identifying and anticipating the current trends and outcomes for smarter, data-driven business decisions.

Types of Business Analytics

The four most popular types of business analytics are descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive. The fifth– cognitive analytics is a new type that employs AI, ML, and deep learning. Whilst each of these business analytics types is effective when used individually, they become extremely powerful when employed together.

Business Analytics Types

1. Descriptive Analytics

It analyses historical data to determine the response of a unit over a set of given variables. It tracks key performance indicators (KPIs) for a better understanding of the present state of a business. 

It involves the following five steps:

  • Deciding which business metrics will effectively evaluate performance against objectives 
  • Identifying required data as per the current business state 
  • Collecting and preparing data using various processes like depublication, transformation, and cleansing.
  • Analyzing data for patterns to measure performance
  • Presenting data in charts and graphs to make it understandable for non-analytics experts

Examples of Descriptive Analytics

  • Summarizing past events, exchange of data, and social media usage
  • Reporting general trends

2. Diagnostic Analytics

Diagnostic Analytics is one of those business analytics types that help understand why things happened in the past. Using drill-downs, data mining, data discovery, and correlations, you can comprehend the driving factors. 

This advanced analytics method is usually employed as a preceding step of Descriptive Analytics to find the reasoning behind certain results in finance, marketing, cybersecurity, and more.

Examples of Diagnostic Analytics

  • Examining market demand
  • Identifying technical issues
  • Explaining customer behavior
  • Improving organization culture

3. Predictive Analytics

It considers historical data trends for determining the probability of particular future outcomes. It uses several techniques like data mining, machine learning algorithms, and statistical modeling to forecast the likelihood of events.

Predictive analytics helps improve business areas, including customer service, efficiency, fraud detection and prevention, and risk management. It allows you to grow the most profitable customers, improve the operations of businesses, and determine customer responses and cross-sell opportunities.  

Examples of Predictive Analytics

  • Predicting customer preferences
  • Detection of employee intentions
  • Recommending products
  • Predicting staff and resources

4. Prescriptive Analytics

Prescriptive analytics generates recommendations to handle similar future situations relying on past performances. It employs several tools, statistics, and ML algorithms for the available internal data and external data. 

It gives you insights into what may happen, when, and why. 

Examples of Prescriptive Analytics

  • Tracking fluctuating manufacturing prices 
  • Improving equipment management
  • Suggest the best course of action
  • Price modeling
  • Evaluating rates of readmission
  • Identifying testing 

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5. Cognitive Analytics

Combining Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics, Cognitive Analytics is one of the newest types of business analytics. It looks at the available data in the knowledge base and discovers the best solutions for the questions posed. 

Cognitive analytics covers multiple analytical techniques to analyze large data sets and monitor customer behavior patterns and emerging trends.

Examples of Cognitive Analytics 

  • Tapping unstructured data sources such as images, text documents, emails, and social posts.

What Business Analytics Types Do Different Companies Prefer?

Top companies choose different types of business analytics. Often they employ several types of business analytics in a step-like process, starting from Descriptive Analytics and concluding with Prescriptive Analytics. 

  • Amazon uses descriptive and predictive analytics of customers' historical shopping data for the prediction of the probability of a customer buying a product. It also uses these methods to personalize product recommendations. 
  • Microsoft uses prescriptive and predictive analytics to improve productivity and collaboration.
  • Uber uses predictive modeling to estimate demand in real-time and has enhanced its customer support. 
  • Starbucks also benefits from predictive analytics to predict purchases and propose interesting offers.  
  • Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, and IBM's Watson use cognitive analysis. 

What Types of Business Analytics are Right for You? 

Every business analytics type plays a significant role depending on the requirements. However, prescriptive analytics is one of the most important types and is thus opted for by most companies.

Descriptive analysis is the most suitable if you are aiming at analyzing the everyday reporting for your businesses. 

When making assessments for future situations using ML and deep learning, use predictive analytics as it is a more advanced method. 

To estimate the best possible options, opt for prescriptive analytics to get actionable insights instead of data monitoring. It best suits healthcare decision-makers needs in optimizing and reducing production costs. 

When it comes to social media campaign analytics and other digital marketing analytics, diagnostic analytics helps view what works and what doesn't for your campaigns.

You can use these four techniques sequentially, or you can jump directly to prescriptive analytics if you have identified the key area that requires optimization to reach the desired outcome.

Looking into the business strategies of top companies reveals that prescriptive and cognitive analytics are the front-runners in this spectrum.

Business Analytics Tools

From a simple spreadsheet with statistical functions to complex predictive modeling applications and data mining, business analytics tools enable users to gain deeper insights with much-needed accuracy. 

Business analytics tools help analyze various business reports and data, generating the best possible outcome for users. For instance, OmniSci is a business analytics tool. It enables users to interactively query, visualize, and power Data Science workflows across massive data.

Some other tools used by Business Analysts are as follows:

  • Jira
  • Confluence 
  • Trello 
  • Balsamiq
  • Microsoft Visio
  • Google Docs and Spreadsheets
  • Rational Requisite Pro

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Business Analytics Jobs

According to Glassdoor, a business analyst earns an average of $68,346 annually. With thorough knowledge of business analytics, you can compete for the following  job positions:  

  • Business Analyst
  • Business Analyst Manager
  • Data Analysis Scientist
  • Data Business Analyst
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Quantitative Analyst
  • IT Business Analyst
Learn best business analysis techniques by Purdue University, IB and EY experts. Sign-up for our Professional Certificate Program in Business Analysis TODAY!

Conclusion 

Despite the growing demand for business analytics, fewer candidates choose this career path. To thrive in today's business world, you must both understand and speak data. Enroll in our Professional Certificate Program in Business Analysis  to acquire the in-demand skills and accelerate your journey to success.

About the Author

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Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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