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The Importance of Understanding Business Analytics

Each of the USC Aiken online MBA programs includes an advanced course in Qualitative Methods and Business Analytics. The course covers the business analytics (BA) methods used by organizations of all sizes to appraise and evaluate quantitative data, measure performance, and make informed management decisions.

The rise of business analytics is driven by advances in technology and cost reductions in "big data" collection and storage. These factors have enabled companies to amass data at unprecedented rates, more than doubling their data banks every two years, according to CIO Dive. Big data is now one of the most significant assets a corporation can own. It is leveraged to improve business models, automate processes, gain valuable customer insights and discover competitive advantages. Big data and the bright professionals with expertise in business analytics are at the heart of nearly every big or small "win" in modern business.

Business Intelligence and Statistical Analysis

There are two main types of business analytics, both of which are applied across many business functions: business intelligence and statistical analysis. Business intelligence entails an examination of historical data to understand how a business or unit performed over time. Statistical analysis includes a host of subset mathematics disciplines like advanced and predictive analytics, which seek to deeply understand and correlate data points.

These techniques intertwine in applications at every level of the organizational hierarchy and in every department. Here are just a few of the many applications for business analytics:

  • C-suite executives use it to evaluate companies for possible mergers or acquisitions, to understand their performance and competitive strengths, and to determine their market values. They use BA to determine when to grow their businesses by studying the factors that are influencing successful business outcomes. BA helps them to determine what markets to target for expansion.
  • Business analysts collect and apply statistical data to explain, predict and inform all business decisions. They mine data for patterns and relationships between bits of data, and perform statistical and quantitative analysis to discover why certain business results occur. They collaborate with leadership to find opportunities, solve problems, and implement innovative solutions in order to make their businesses more efficient and profitable. Their insights help to optimize and automate business processes, and their findings often become valuable corporate assets and significant competitive advantages.
  • Entrepreneurs use analytics to develop business plans, detailing the current competitive environment and applying predictive modeling to demonstrate the effect of the plan’s market disruption. They use it to accurately forecast the impact of marketing and sales campaigns, and overall business growth.
  • Marketers use BA tools like social media analysis in conjunction with internal customer data to develop complex profiles of current and prospective customers. Using behavioral data about the customer journey, marketers are able to target specific demographics with campaigns designed to deliver the most helpful and persuasive messaging at the precise moments when they can make the strongest impact.
  • Sales leaders using sales enablement software can collaborate with marketing to coordinate the activities of both departments. Marketing can follow up a sales visit with an email directing business partners to learn more in an online webinar, while sales can call just after a prospective customer has spent an hour in an online evaluation of new business enterprise software.

As a prospective business school student, you are likely viewing business analytics through the lens of an aspiring business leader. It can be just as informative, however, to think of your consumer experiences and how they have been positively impacted by business analytics. The growing array of produce available at your supermarket, the latest features on your new smart phone and the steadily decreasing management fees in your exchange-traded funds are all positive outcomes of gathering and analyzing data. Just imagine what positive outcomes you may soon bring about with expertise in business analytics.

Learn more about USC Aiken's online MBA programs.


Sources:

Techopedia: Business Analytics

IBM: 5 Ways Business Analytics Can Grow Your Business

CIO Dive: The Rise of Big Data: Why Companies Are Amassing Information to Drive Insight

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