Business Analytics

What is Business Analytics?

What is Business Analytics?

Business Analytics Helps You:

  • Gain a high-level overview of your business
  • Share insights and visualizations
  • Optimize performance
  • Analyze and predict trends
  • Diagnose and treat issues

Gain a high-level overview of your business

What is business analytics, you might be asking? Business analytics (BA), a subset of Business Intelligence (BI), is typically leveraged by a set of tools that collects business data, analyzes it, and then generates insights and predictions to help businesses gain high-level overviews of their enterprises. Business analytics software, such as Dundas BI, analyzes data like sales figures, budget spends, employee hours, inventory and more. Then, the solution uses additional tools such as graphs, charts and maps to help give that data context.

Business analytics also helps people generate insights, such as discrepancies in data or historical trends. This takes all the different data components in business, visualizes them and tracks them in meaningful ways.

Business analytics also help decision-makers, managers and officers make more sound and data-informed decisions. By obtaining a grand view of the business’s performance, you can gain actionable data to inform choices. For example, users might decide not to increase ad spend based on sales data related to marketing and advertising outreach. Or they might choose to increase bonus payouts based on projected income.

This type of software usually employs four different types of analytics to help users make decisions:

  • Prescriptive analytics
  • Descriptive analytics
  • Predictive analytics
  • Diagnostic analytics

Share insights and visualizations

Data without delivery is dead. The sharing of insights via intuitive dashboards, reports and visualizations is an essential component of business analytics. But reports, dashboards and visualizations are not three different ways of saying the same thing.

Reports are static pieces of content, usually a generated spreadsheet or document that takes advantage of visualizations in order to convey meaning from accrued data. They are typically the end result of an experiment or are generated automatically at days end for review and digestion.

A dashboard, on the other hand, is a dynamic page (often within the app itself), that makes use of live-updating, interactive visualizations. Dashboards are usually specialized in one business function or another. For example, marketing may have their own interactive analytics dashboard, and then they might generate reports based on that dashboard.

Visualizations are the complex visual tools that convey meaning and given context to collected data. Some examples of visualizations include:

  • Heat maps
  • Charts
  • Graphs
  • Flow charts
  • Word clouds
  • Timelines

Optimize performance

Because business analytics gives you such a powerful look at your business, most users choose to set benchmarks for their company’s performance. These benchmarks are often known as key performance indicators, or KPIs. The point in using KPIs is to set baseline performance metrics, ideal performance goals and track how you measure up to each of them. You might, for example, set a number of leads for marketing to achieve in the month of July. When marketing can’t hit their leads numbers, you aren’t meeting their KPIs. Business analytics makes it easier to explore why that is; perhaps there’s another data point that helps tell the story a little better?

Optimizing a business is easier when you can see pain points, victories and areas of growth or decline in empirical data. It lets you choose where to direct resources and where to capitalize on gains or losses.

Analyze and predict trends

Among the most coveted features of business analytics products is their ability to analyze trends and then make predictions on what might happen next. Business analytics predictions often work based on historical data first to find out how performance varies across time. Then variables such as seasonality and user-input are taken into account in order to produce a potential trend in data.

Analyzing trends is an invaluable tool for decision makers and managers, as it allows them to make preparations far in advance. If a product sells exceptionally well in December of this year, predictive analytics might deliver an insight that prompts managers to stock additional products for December of next.


What Do The Different Types of Analytics Do?

Each of the four types of analytics plays a unique role in a business analytics system. As a refresher, there are four types of analytics: prescriptive, descriptive, predictive and diagnostic analytics. Each one serves a unique function and is often incorporated directly into the business analutics program itself.

Prescriptive analytics serves a major function in providing an outcome for analysis — the “what to do next” that so many employees and managers scratch their heads over, hence the term “prescriptive.”

Descriptive analytics describes things as they are, often taking a look at the present and historical data and pointing out trends, victories and pain points. The key differentiator between descriptive analytics and the other three types is that it does not make predictions, offer solutions or inform users on what the next best steps might be (and why those are the best steps).

Predictive analytics utilizes historical data in order to make predictions on what might happen in the future. What is important to note is that predictive analytics only makes predictions, unlike prescriptive analytics, which makes suggestions.

And then there’s diagnostic analytics, which is an advanced form of analytics that seeks to answer the “why” question when something happens. This type of analytics is is not yet incorporated into all business analytics products.


Is My Business Ready to Utilize BA?

Whether or not you’re ready to start leveraging business analytics is dependent on a number of factors.

  • Your organization’s goals
  • Different and varying performance within departments
  • Positive growth of the business that you’re looking to capitalize on
  • Negative growth or decline that needs to be addressed
  • Being unsure of your next steps

How Do I Select Business Analytics Software?

It’s not easy to select the right business analytics tools for your needs. If you feel you’re ready to start on that journey, keep a few of these things in mind.

You should consider your budget, first and foremost, as this will ultimately be the deciding factor in what software you pick. Our curated list of business analytics software provides basic pricing and scaling information.

Next, think about your specific needs as an organization. Your company, for example, might not utilize diagnostic analytics or might need a product that can produce mobile-first visualizations. Perhaps you need something web-based first, or something on-premise? Your business has unique needs. If you’re unsure what you need or what your requirements should be, we provide a tool to help you quickly and cleanly assess your needs and find the proper software for your enterprise. Alternatively, we’ve got a business analytics requirements checklist all written out for you.

The next step is to create an RFP, which is quite a task itself, which we won’t cover in this guide. Head on over to our analytics RFP article to learn more.

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Business analytics articles are written and edited by:

Jason Keller

Market Research Associate

Jason Keller is a Market Research Associate at SelectHub who writes content on Business Analytics Tools, Big Data Tools, Facility Management Software, Marketing Automation Software, Field Service Software and Endpoint Security Software. He studied journalism at the University of Northern Colorado, and in his free time likes reading and writing creatively, listening to music, hiking and hanging out with his dogs.

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Bergen Adair

Market Research Associate

Bergen Adair is a Market Research Associate at SelectHub who writes content on CMMS, FM, EAM, Business Intelligence and Enterprise Reporting. She has had a love of the written word since she started reading voraciously at three years old, and studied creative writing at Colorado State University and Swansea University. In her free time she’s usually reading (or napping) in a hammock, hiking with her dog, or listening to horror and true crime podcasts.

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Mariah Hansen

Lead Editor

As the lead editor at SelectHub, Mariah edits and manages content for more than 40 different software categories, as well as writing for a couple of them herself.

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Thought Leaders

SelectHub has sought out and invited thought leaders to contribute to our business analytics industry articles and resources. These thought leaders ensure we deliver quality content with the most accurate information, focusing on what matters most. No thought leader is compensated for their contributions, but shares our belief that information should be democratized so everyone can make the best decision.

Shaku Atre

Shaku Atre

President, Atre Group, Inc.

“Shaku Atre has been a pioneer in computer science, as one of the first women practitioners of database design and related technologies to achieve prominence worldwide.

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Mike Galbraith

Mike Galbraith

VP, Technology and Solutions, ThoughtFocus

Mike brings many years of experience as an IT executive and CIO, Digital Transformation Leader and Delivery leader for several Fortune 200 companies.

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Ryan Wilson

Ryan Wilson

CTO, Build Intelligence

Ryan Wilson is currently CTO of Build Intelligence, a Domo Consulting company specializing in the construction industry. Ryan has over 9 years of data analytics experience from a handful of positions in various industries ranging from biochemistry to early child care education to semi- conductors, etc.

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Best Data Analysis Tools for 2020

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Data is the currency of the future, and in order to get the most out of their data, businesses need to be able to access and make use of their data. Luckily, there are literally hundreds of amazing business analytics tools on the market that make quick work of the complicated tasks required to capitalize on this data. Unfortunately, these hundreds of available tools can cause choice paralysis. How do you choose the best data analysis tools from all these options?

This article aims to answer that question by providing a list of the top data analysis tools this year, as well as some helpful tools for users looking to find their personal best match. So let’s get started!

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Visual Analytics Tools: What Are They And Which Should You Use?

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“I love to read through thousands of rows of data tables to digest information,” said no one ever. Most of the data you collect through business analytics tools end up in some kind of standard table of rows and columns. Although you could leave it in this form, it’s not only boring to look at, but also incredibly difficult to actually understand the big picture. Sure, you may get a general sense of what the data holds — you may even be able to spot a pattern or two. But to get a true picture of the story your data tells, you need visual analytics tools.

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Knowledge is power, and business analytics (BA) give you the knowledge to do what you need for your business to thrive. But there are so many different types of business software out there. How can you choose just one?

Today we’re breaking down the pros and cons of two of the best business analytics tools on the market: Dundas vs Sisense. Hopefully by the time you’re finished reading you’ll feel both knowledgeable and empowered enough to make the right choice for your business.

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The future is here, and it comes in the form of data. For businesses of every industry and size, the use of Big Data is only continuing to increase in the age of technology. After all, it’s been one of the most well-known buzzwords of the last few years for a reason. Despite how much it’s talked about, many people still don’t know what Big Data actually is.

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The retail buyer’s experience doesn’t look like it did 10 years ago. In fact, it hardly looks the same from the year before. This is partly due to constant buyer demand and ever-changing buying trends. As a result, businesses could no longer use intuition to predict sales outcomes and instead have come to rely on retail analytics software tools to reduce the risk of human error. The right business analytics tools for retail businesses can be a game changer.

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Business Analytics Requirements Checklist

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Your organization creates and collects an immense amount of data — probably even more than you realize. What do you do with that data once it’s there? How can it help you? How do you make sense of it?

This is where business analytics comes in. Business analytics tools fall into a subcategory of business intelligence and involves the methodical exploration of data to help businesses make data-driven decisions. It answers all three of the questions posed earlier and then some.

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7 Cutting Edge Advanced Business Analytics Tools


The popularity of business analytics tools has reached a boiling point in recent years. This change is driven by the need to increase the depths of functionality these tools deliver without a data scientist supporting them. Businesses are developing advanced technologies to meet this new need, including natural language processing (NLP) and Hadoop. These advances have resulted in a new age of cutting-edge business analytics tools. To jump to a list of some of the best systems, click here.

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During the past few years, the future of business analytics seemed bright.

Cloud analytics was finally taking off against a market stacked to the brim with on-premise business analytics software. Flat, static dashboards were being ditched for more robust and agile interactive dashboards. Spreadsheets got sent packing in the face of heavily augmented and data-informed reports. Self-service analytics hit the ground running, giving more and more people the ability to utilize complex analytics without a complex degree.

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4 Tips for Getting Data Democratization Right

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Data democracy provides businesspeople with the tools they need to independently understand data and make insights-driven decisions. Learn to successfully implement data democratization at your company by aligning analytics with clear business outcomes, ensuring sound foundational data, and focusing on the user experience. Enable free data exploration and approachable analysis, and employees will be empowered to move the needle on business growth without struggling against technical learning curves and insights bottlenecks.

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10 Ways Real-Time Business Intelligence Analytics Is Driving Revenue

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In the coming years and beyond, real-time business intelligence and analytics will continue to drive new business models, increase insights into customer behavior and be one of the primary catalysts driving a revolution in selling, manufacturing and service. From the algorithms they use to the applications they power, companies of all sizes will have a chance to capitalize on real-time intelligence by leveraging business analytics tools. We’re going to show you 10 ways in which real-time analytics is driving these trends.

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Salesforce Acquires Tableau for $15.7 Billion: What It Means for Software Buyers

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The acquisition of Tableau by CRM software giant Salesforce is earth-shaking news for anyone in the enterprise software world. This announcement comes only a day after Google purchased Looker, an analytics startup, for $2.6 billion. This of course pales in comparison to the $15.7 billion price tag that Salesforce paid (in an all stock deal) for Tableau (see our Tableau vs Looker comparison).

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Predictive Analytics Software: Top Solutions & Implementation Tips

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You’ve probably heard about the power of predictive analytics and how it can practically save the world. Although there’s plenty of hyperbole to go around, there’s no denying the impact of this business analytics software. The right predictive analytics software can be one of the most important tools for a business.

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What Is Cloud Analytics?

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Cloud analytics. Two buzzwords crashed together, that, unlike most other buzzwords, can have serious benefits and implications for your business. If you’re not yet familiar with analytics, it’s a subset of business intelligence, which is anything that can be considered knowledge valuable to operating a business. You might be familiar with Google Analytics, a popular web analytics suite, which is a part of a broader offering of business intelligence and business analytics tools.

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Data and business go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s no secret that business analytics is fueling the data-driven economy in the hundreds of billions, so we’ve written extensively on the subject and created a list of the top business analytics software vendors to help you navigate the emerging data market space. If you’re one of the thousands of businesses planning on adopting a business analytics platform, then it’s time for you to start drawing up a data analytics RFP for BA software tools.

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Do you ever look around and realize we’re living in the future? Recent years have seen an explosion of new business technologies that feel like something from science fiction. This is especially true for the business analytics (BA) industry. Rapid gains in analytics, big data, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are fueling a new era of manufacturing business intelligence.

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