The foundation of any successful company—from startups to established big players—is being able to give customers what they want. And guesswork just isn’t enough to figure out what that is.
That’s why business analytics is such a critical field. It enables companies to know their users’ wants and needs.
In today’s guest post, Danielle Canstello explains what business analytics is, why it’s so valuable for modern companies, and what makes it a fantastic career choice for you.
In the past couple of years, we have witnessed each area of society falling prey to the necessity for technology, data, and business analytics.
In all fairness, the world has always been ruled by data. However, historically, the competition was not global as it is today, so companies could succeed even if they did not do much to understand their past performance in order to prepare for the future. Back then, all you needed was an interesting idea, good workers, and a strong sense of business, and you could make a living.
Nowadays, everything is much more complicated than it once was.
When we’re talking about “data” here, we can’t talk about just data itself, but also the processing methods for it. Information in its raw form is not valuable, as it does not give any decision-making power.
Thus, it makes sense that with today’s overflow of information, new professions—mainly focused on the organization and analysis of data—have appeared on the business horizon.
Such is the case with business analysts.
What Is Business Analytics?
Business analytics is the process of making sense of gathered data, measuring business performance, and producing valuable conclusions that can help companies make informed decisions on the future of the business, through the use of various statistical methods and techniques.
People often confuse business analytics with business intelligence. Although both of them do have data in their main focus, there is one important difference between the two: business intelligence is related to the collection of data, while the concern of business analytics is putting all that data into use.
In other words, business intelligence is the first step towards understanding the circumstances that the company is currently in. It answers the “what” of the situation. Business analytics, on the other hand, explains the “why”: it is the bridge that connects the technical side of the business with the managerial, decision-making side of it.
The Need for Business Analytics
To better understand why business analytics has become a buzzword in the corporate world and why you should consider specializing in the field, let’s first define what business analysts do:
Business analysts are the people that have the needed knowledge, skills, and sources of information to decide on the direction the business needs to take to succeed in the future.
Their specialties include choosing the opportunities with the highest potential of success, calculating the strategy that would prove most fruitful for the business, or preparing the company for the upcoming change.
The need for analytics is far from new. What is new is its wide range of applications. In the past, only industries dealing with high levels of risk, like insurance companies, would apply analytics in their operations.
As the data revolution changed the way of doing business, companies from all industries faced various kinds of risks which could only be avoided by the use of up-to-date, relevant information.
And, as we said in the very beginning, for a piece of information to be useful, it needs to be processed, understandable, and actionable. This is why every piece of data that a business collects or stores needs to be analyzed by a person who knows how to use statistics to draw actionable and useful conclusions.
These conclusions allow the business to understand the environment in which it operates, to find out how it can become more competitive, to streamline the decision making in the company, and to ultimately maximize its revenues.
Finally, analytics allows for fast and precise decision-making. Since time is everything in business, it is understandable why business analytics is considered to be the hottest occupation in the 21st century.
How Business Analytics Helps Companies Improve, Grow, And Overcome Challenges
Let’s look deeper into how business analytics can help a company.
1. It empowers companies to make an impact
Analyzing data allows understanding of both the business and the industry in which it operates, ensuring that a company is able to make choices that help them grow.
More specifically, business analytics provides:
- Clarity. Knowing where a company stands in the industry or a particular niche provides the company with the needed clarity to develop effective strategies to position itself better in the future.
- Competitiveness. If a company does not analyze the huge amounts of data it is exposed to, it might drown in information, and stay behind the competition.
- Timeliness. Clear insight into each aspect of the business empowers easy and fast decision-making that yields positive results.
2. It keeps them up-to-date in a changing environment
For a company to remain competitive in the modern marketplace that requires constant change and growth, it is crucial that it stays informed on the latest industry trends and best practices.
Not only does business analytics provide the needed knowledge for companies to survive in today’s constantly changing business environment; it also makes room for growth and improvement, providing a detailed look into various opportunities and challenges that companies face on a day-to-day basis.
3. It elevates operational efficiency
Business analytics makes it possible for a company to pinpoint operational inefficiencies and respond to them accordingly.
4. It empowers them to plan for growth
Analytics gives businesses a forecasting ability, which makes the business more agile and prepared for possible risks. As a result, the business is able to make important decisions with more confidence, knowing that it can handle the risks and adjust the consequences.
5. It builds stronger customer relationships
Analytics gives companies an insight into their customers’ behavior, needs, and pain points. It also makes it possible for a company to understand the public opinion of its brand, to follow the results of various marketing campaigns, and strategize how to create a better marketing strategy to nurture long and fruitful relationships with its customers.
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3 Reasons You Should Consider Pursuing A Career In Business Analytics
We’ve established why business analytics is important for companies—but what makes it a good career choice on a personal level?
1. The supply is still lower than the demand
As more companies are realizing the importance of big data relative to their competitiveness and success, business analytics has become the go-to job of this century.
What makes pursuing a career in this field even more tempting is the fact that although the demand has steadily been rising during the past couple of years, the supply side of the market has still not been saturated.
A recent report by Burning Glass Technologies, Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), and IBM, titled “The Quant Crunch: How The Demand For Data Science Skills Is Disrupting The Job Market” has found that “Data Science and Analytics (DSA) jobs remain open an average of 45 days, five days longer than the market average.”
That is to say: although every modern company needs someone to take care of its data, there are not enough professionals offering expert services to these companies to satisfy the demand.
2. Business analytics can be applied to any industry and is an easy switch from other careers
Unlike many other professions, your professional background and past experiences do not matter when it comes to business analytics.
Analytics can be applied to any industry, be it entertainment, sports, education, manufacturing, insurance, banking, automotive, or elsewhere, which makes it not only widely applicable but also an easy switch from other careers.
To be a business analyst, you need the following skills:
- Ability to align with stakeholders
- Basic knowledge of stats tools such as Excel
- Ability to drive impact
- Working A/B testing skills
As you can see, these skills are fairly general, and no advanced tech knowledge is required.
Moreover, the field of business analytics offers many different jobs to choose from (check out the image below for all the different options).
3. A career in business analytics is dynamic and makes room for professional development
Business analysts do not know of such a thing as a “normal” day. They continuously face various challenges as they operate in different environments and meet clients with specific needs.
Moreover, the nature of the job urges business analysts to stay in contact with people from different departments, with various skills and expertise, which enriches their knowledge of how a company, and each one of its departments, functions.
Hence, business analysts continuously learn new things and find different techniques that produce more effective and innovative solutions to complex problems.
In a business landscape ruled by big data, organizations that do not analyze their gathered data risk falling behind their competition and even completely disappearing.
Developments in information technology have further accentuated the need for creating various tools and methods to organize and understand the vast amounts of data a company is exposed to.
But the development of useful practices is not enough. Not even the best methodologies have any value unless there is someone able to work with them.
For all of these tools and algorithms to find practical use, the market needs (and demands) individuals who are able to implement them in the corporate environment, transforming the inputs of raw data into conclusions that empower fast and rational decision-making, increased efficiency, and maximized profits.
Finally, business analytics is not only rewarding for companies; it also provides a great chance for professional development for the analysts. It is dynamic and exciting, especially in a market where the supply has still not even closely matched the growing demand, making it an excellent choice for career-changers seeking a new role.
About the author
Danielle Canstello is part of the content marketing team at Pyramid Analytics. They provide enterprise level analytics and business intelligence software. In her spare time, she writes around the web to spread her knowledge of marketing, business intelligence, and analytics industries.