About Business Analytics
Society, through its multiple facets, has been engulfed with the accumulation of data for as long as information has been generated. Hordes of data include emails, documents, customer loyalty transaction, sensor and financial information, to list a few. Taking a step back to understand our fascination with data, we pose the question “What is data?”. Simply put, the term data refers to qualitative or quantitative attributes of an item or set of items, whatever they may be. Most importantly data are often viewed as the lowest level of abstraction from which information and then knowledge and ‘intelligence’ can be derived. Thus, our unrelenting pursuit of data is now easily explained. Data is synonymous to information which in turn is synonymous to knowledge and ‘intelligence’.
Despite the availability of raw information, gut-feel is still, often the most widely used basis for important and sometimes critical decisions by senior executives and managers. How does one currently gauge which items should be placed on the shelves of various retail or grocery shops? What is the underlying commonality among customers or patrons? How do business analysts go beyond the apparent and traditional features, to better understand the customers behavioral and buying drivers? How does one answer the question of why a certain event had occurred, in a prompt and timely manner, and more importantly how does one preemptively get alerts to the possibility of a future event occurring?
Given all of the above, and perhaps at times the challenge of establishing a framework to sort through the deluge of data, one could dive even deeper into the realms of data by asking “Do you know what you do not know?”. “Is there any insight, knowledge, information that is currently hidden within the wealth of accumulated data that would improve business processes, uncover new growth potential, etc.?”. This is the birth of Business Analytics.