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Why Managers Should Understand Business Analytics

Each of the University of West Florida's eight online Master of Business Administration (MBA) areas of emphasis includes a core course on business analytics focusing on development of quantitative and analytical skills required to model, analyze, interpret and solve managerial decision-making problems.

Understanding Business Analytics

What is business analytics, and why is this course so important for managers in all industries? Business analytics is an essential part of running any business, from the entrepreneurial startup to a multinational corporation. In short, business analytics is the analysis of the answers provided by business intelligence. Managerial and executive decision-making arises from this process, and in order to reach these decision-making positions in your career, you must understand business analytics.

According to Gartner Research, business analytics comprises "solutions used to build analysis models and simulations to create scenarios, understand realities and predict future states. Business analytics includes data mining, predictive analytics, applied analytics and statistics, and is delivered as an application suitable for a business user." Once collected, the data (along with analyses) are communicated to customers, business partners and business leaders for use in business planning.

Applications for Big Data

Data-driven companies use what is known as "big data" in a variety of ways to gain insights and achieve competitive advantages. These methods have grown increasingly sophisticated as the volume of data itself continues to increase exponentially, spurred further by the shift to digital life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Statista projects big data creation will more than double between 2021 and 2025.

Some forms of business analytics that make use of big data are:

  • Statistical and quantitative analysis to discover why certain results occur
  • Data mining for patterns and relationships between bits of data
  • Predictive modeling and analytics to forecast results from business plans
  • Testing marketing and advertising campaigns to compare results

For decades, insurance companies have used business analytics to estimate risk and develop actuarial models. According to Proagrica, farmers use AI-driven data analytics to optimize agricultural processes, reduce waste, improve yields and increase profits. Credit card companies and banks use analysis of data to assess the risk levels of applicants. A major component of this financial data is the credit score and the wealth of data included in credit reports.

As big data has proliferated in every industry, more and more complex applications for using this data have emerged. For example, Analytics Insight describes how the HelloFresh brand created three distinct buyer personas using analysis of customer behavior. These buyer personas helped the company improve marketing campaign strategy and audience targeting, leading to improved conversion rates and retention.

As another example, while not a traditional "business" application, Des Moines Public Schools used advanced analytics, student data and data visualization tools to help predict, identify and address the needs of students at risk of dropping out of school.

These are just a few of the many examples of how business analytics can be used in diverse settings. When you think about your own experiences as a consumer, you can imagine just how pervasive business analytics skills are in the best-performing organizations — and how important developing these skills are for your management career.

Learn more about the University of West Florida's online MBA program.

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