Business analytics plays a strategic role in how organizations function. A company’s ability to leverage data effectively can determine its success or failure. Business analytics offers unique insights from data into what works and does not work with company operations. Staying competitive requires building a loyal customer base, targeting marketing campaigns effectively, and manufacturing products consumers that want at competitive prices. Business analytics can deliver insights to make the right decisions and introduce that innovation to the market.
More than ever, businesses increasingly rely on analytics to drive decisions, improve efficiency, and stay ahead of the curve in constantly changing environments. Recent findings from Oracle can help explain why: Organizations using data to drive their decisions are six times more likely to be profitable.
The growing use of data in every aspect of an organization has created a wide range of promising business analytics careers. Securing one of these lucrative and competitive positions requires the right education. Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Business Analytics helps students build the knowledge needed to thrive in data-driven environments.
What Is Business Analytics?
The chief purpose of business analytics is transforming structured and unstructured data derived from various sources into useful information that can serve as the foundation for effective business strategies. By analyzing raw data, businesses can find trends and metrics—measurable indicators that track success such as sales revenue and overhead costs—that can help them improve operational efficiency. Business analytics typically fall into one of three categories: descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive.
Descriptive analytics involves examining historical data or data generated in an organization about past circumstances such as financial statements, invoices, and sales records. Analyzing historical data can help organizations gain insights into what and how things have changed in their businesses. For example, descriptive analytics can allow businesses to evaluate pricing over the course of a year, sales growth from one month to the next, and changes in the amount of money generated per client within a set time period.
Descriptive analytics gives businesses a context for numbers. For example, if a sales report shows $2 million in earnings, a business needs to understand the context of those sales. Is that a 15% decline from previous months or a 30% year-over-year increase? The answers to those questions provide key information to a business about what is and aren’t working.
Predictive analytics allows businesses to use historical data to predict the likelihood of particular outcomes related to trends and behaviors in the next day, month, or year. To generate these insights, predictive analytics employs tools such as statistical modeling and machine learning. Statistical modeling is the use of mathematics to approximate realities and, then, use those approximations to make predictions. Machine learning uses algorithms to make predictions based on massive amounts of data. Predictive analytics empowers businesses to predict events and conditions at specific times, which allows them to detect risks and opportunities.
Prescriptive analytics combines the descriptive analytics process (insights on what happened) and the predictive analytics process (insights on what might happen). The result allows businesses to anticipate not only what will happen but also when and why. Prescriptive analytics help businesses find the best course of action to take based on the available data. The process also relies on tools such as machine learning and allows businesses to improve efficiency, reduce risks, and achieve business goals.
Business Analytics Tools
Business analytics makes use of various methodologies to analyze data and trends, ultimately guiding organizations toward smarter business decisions. One tool is data mining that involves culling through large data sets to find patterns, anomalies, and correlations. With that information, businesses can make predictions to raise revenues, lower expenses, and strengthen customer loyalty, among other things. For example, data mining can help an organization interpret huge amounts of information to forecast customer behavior and, then, develop targeted campaigns that respond to specific audiences’ needs.
Another valuable business analytics tool is forecasting that examines data from the past and the present, along with an analysis of trends, to help project what will happen in the future. By removing some of the future’s uncertainty, forecasting can help businesses make better decisions regarding resource allocation, planning for potential outcomes, and responding to anticipated demands for their goods or services. With business analytics, organizations transform data into insightful information that supports the development of effective business strategies.
The Essential Skills for Careers in Business Analytics
Business analytical professionals who extracting useful insights from data require a specific and developed skillset, including the following core competencies:
Manipulating large amounts of data is a mainstay of business analytics work. This task requires exceptional analytical skills, as do other duties in the field, such as finding patterns in data and evaluating the different methods needed to extract the desired information.
Business analytics professionals work with software and systems, which demands technical know-how. Understanding the data’s context—such as its origin, the reason for its collection, and who collected it—makes it easier to draw conclusions, which requires specific technical knowledge. Additionally, possessing agility with analytical tools also determines how likely a user can transform raw data into meaningful insights.
Critical Thinking Skills
Making sense of data requires the ability to think in larger terms. Business analytics professionals must dig into the deeper questions. They must consider the implications of the information in front of them, investigate deviations, and evaluate data from all angles. Only then can they truly exploit the information’s potential. This in-depth level of inquiry demands superior critical thinking skills.
After finding meaning in data, business analytics professionals communicate insights to people who can make use of them. Knowing how to explain information in meaningful terms requires strong communication skills.
Cultivating and fine-tuning the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in business analytics careers takes the right training. Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) offers a comprehensive program designed to help individuals expand their research methodology skills, apply concepts such as quantitative modeling, build data-mining skills, and deepen their ability to analyze data and apply it to decision-making. These competencies and others equip professionals to thrive in the business analytics field.
Careers in Business Analytics: Salary and Job Growth
With an advanced degree in business analytics, individuals can pursue several exciting career paths that offer dynamic work, attractive salaries, and promising job outlooks.
Market Research Analyst
Market research analysts evaluate markets to determine what products and services will sell best into their intended audiences. Their work helps companies better understand who will buy their products and at what price by analyzing market trends, evaluating the success of marketing campaigns, and using statistical analysis to interpret data. Using analytical, math, and statistical skills, along with an ability to interpret patterns, market research analysts implement different methods to collect data and transform complex findings into accessible insights that companies can use to improve marketing strategies.
Market research analysts earned a median annual salary of $63,790 in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), which projects the number of positions in the field to grow by 20% between 2018 and 2028.
Applied Regression with Research Methods, a course in Norwich University’s MSBA program, covers one of the most important tools market research analysts can use to analyze data. Applied regression allows individuals to sort out the variables that impact outcomes. Additionally, the course teaches research methods for applying regression.
Cost estimators gather and examine data to determine how much time, money, labor, and materials are needed to assemble products, deliver services, or construct buildings. Using math, analytical, time management, and communication skills, cost estimators identify what variables impact costs, calculate costs, and analyze ways to reduce them. They also work with technical documents in the preparation of estimates and collaborate with engineers, architects, contractors, and clients.
Cost estimators earned a median annual salary of $65,250 in 2019, according to the BLS, which projects the number of jobs in the field to grow by 9% between 2018 and 2028.
Norwich University’s MSBA course Predictive Analytics, Relational Database, and Data Transformation teaches students machine learning and statistical techniques. The curriculum helps aspiring cost estimators understand the relationships between data sets to make estimates about costs. It also builds skills in using predictive models in their work.
Budget analysts help organizations manage their finances. This role involves collaborating with different managers to develop budgets as well as reviewing budget proposals for soundness and adherence to laws and regulations. Budget analysts need superior math skills and knowledge of accounting principles. They also must have strong problem-solving skills to successfully consolidate program and organizational budgets, analyze proposed plans, and ensure all organizational spending lands within budget.
Budget analysts earned a median annual salary of $76,540 in 2019, and the BLS expects the field to grow by 4% between 2018 and 2028.
Data Mining for Predictive Decision-Making, a course offered in the Norwich University MSBA program, builds future budget analysts’ ability to analyze data using data-mining software. Along with a close study of topics such as decision tree and clustering, this course builds competency that allows budget analysts to better predict how to allocate funds as well as determine which projects pose the greatest risk.
Actuaries help businesses understand the monetary costs of risk. Using acute mathematical and statistical skills, along with knowledge of finance theory, actuaries analyze how much different events could potentially cost. Using this information, they help organizations develop policies to limit those costs. Additionally, actuaries possess strong analytical and communication skills, which help them compile and study statistical data, design and evaluate business strategies, and explain findings and recommendations to key stakeholders such as executives, shareholders, and clients.
Actuaries earned a median annual salary of $108,350 in 2019, according to the BLS, which predicts a 20% jump in the actuary job market between 2018 and 2028.
Norwich University’s MSBA program offers a course on Governance, Security, Risks, and Ethics in Business Analytics that teaches aspiring actuaries about the legal limits of collecting and using data analytics in decision-making. The curriculum instructs actuaries on how to account for contractual liabilities and ensure recommended policies fall within the law.
Operations Research Analyst
Operations research analysts help organizations solve business and logistical problems through mathematical and analytical methods. To ensure their companies function at the highest level, operations research analysts gather information from many sources, including input from employees with specialized knowledge of the problem at hand, and, then, analyze it using statistical analysis, predictive modeling, and simulations. They present different courses of action and the corresponding effects on executives and decision-makers. This work requires advanced analytical, math, communication, and problem-solving skills to arrive at accurate findings and ensure they’re understood.
Operations research analysts earned a median annual salary of $84,810 in 2019 and should see their job market grow by 26% between 2018 and 2028, according to the BLS.
Problem Solving in Applied Data Science, part of Norwich University’s MSBA program, trains future operations research analysts in key modeling approaches used in decision-making. Throughout the course, students learn how to understand problems, calculate models, find solutions, and develop insight into how different techniques work in various situations. The course equips students with the skills needed to apply suitable methods for solving problems and making clear recommendations based on their findings.
Bring Innovation to Business by Earning a Master of Science in Business Analytics
Business analytics empowers organizations to make data-driven decisions that can improve their ability to compete in a market. Whether they’re making strategic decisions about marketing and pricing products or solving budgeting problems and calculating risks, business analytics professionals play a strategic role in successful companies.
Developing the skills and knowledge to harness the power of data requires concentrated study and guidance from experts. Explore how Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Business Analytics program prepares students to excel in business analytics careers.
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Cost Estimators, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Budget Analyst, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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