Business analytics tools are used to help industries of all kinds reach ever higher levels of productivity, revenue, and success. This works by helping businesses to use their time and resources more effectively.
Analytics brings new insights to the table which can make or break a business. In retail and distribution, for example, analytics has led to innovations such as same-day delivery, as well as better customer targeting.
Even in sport, analytics could well be the driving force behind your favourite football team.
The power of these tools and techniques can be available to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
However, not many business owners understand how analytical modelling can be applied to their day to day operations. This causes them to miss out on opportunities to improve their products and services.
As with any other investment, business owners are primarily concerned with how business analytics impact their bottom line. That is, how using the right tools can cut costs and boost revenues.
Today, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about integrating analytics into your business operations. First thing’s first. Let’s take a look at what business analytics actually means.
What is Business Analytics?
Business analytics is a set of tools and methods aimed at helping you to leverage data to improve the way your business functions. While some business analysts may choose to gather and manipulate data manually, these days, most use specialised business analytics tools.
Before we get into specific tools, let’s answer a more important question.
What can you do with Business Analytics?
As we said, analytics is all about using data to generate insights. This helps you to make better decisions about your business. This means that analytics can benefit you just about any time you need to make a decision.
Specifically, business analytics involves doing the following:
- Build analysis models,
- Create simulations and scenarios,
- Get a glimpse of reality of the current state of your business,
- Predict future stats.
The goal with each of these tasks is to help you take the most cost effective and profitable course of action. The tools we’ll talk about provide easy ways to do all of this; using data mining, statistics, and predictive analytics.
Business analytics tools essentially provide solutions that large corporations have paid a data analyst to create, but which are now available for anyone to understand, and more importantly, to apply to their own business.
Why You Need Business Analytics
Most businesses today have a wide array of tools used to track business data. Data such as customer information, ordering information, product information, and service information may all be stored in their own silos. Some common business systems include:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM),
- Service Lifecycle Management (SLM),
- Supply Chain Management (SCM),
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
You may have one or all these systems in your business. The challenge now is to find the relationships between the data in these systems and put this new knowledge to good use to grow your business.
With the power of business analytics, you will be able to find the opportunities for growth that your competitors are missing.
So, what can business analytics tools and techniques help you do with your data?
- Experimentation – With today’s business analytics tools, you can perform experiments and project the results to see which of two (or more) paths might be better for your business
- Correlation – You don’t know what you don’t know. With business analytics tools, you may just uncover the relationship between two separate products or processes that you never knew existed. For instance, selling more of Widget A means selling more of Widget X.
- Regression Analysis – This is another handy tool for businesses that allows you to determine the effect that one action may have on another. For instance, if you raise the price of a product, how does it affect the demand for the product?
- Forecasting – Forecasting is a must-do technique for future growth. By collecting data over time, or using historical data, you can identify trends and patterns of your business and use these to predict future potential and events.
Popular Business Analytics Tools
Business analytics tools are becoming easier to use and implement all the time. You no longer need to hire data scientists. The newest tools feature intuitive interfaces and helpful guidance so you too can use the power of analytics to drive your business.
Most of these tools will require some investment, however there are some free business analytics tools and some paid tools have free versions. Using a free or trial version is a great way to get a feel for a product.
Here are some of the most popular business analytics tools on the market today.
Many small businesses like Clear Analytics because it is based on the power of Microsoft Excel, a tool that most businesses are already familiar with. Clear Analytics is a great choice for businesses concerned with compliance.
Using the power of Excel, all numbers can easily be traced back to their source.
Microsoft Power BI
You can easily connect the Microsoft Power BI product to the most popular data sources such as Oracle, SharePoint and Salesforce. Power BI is available on all your mobile devices and with a robust alert system to notify you when data has changed.
You can give Attivio a try using their free trial. This software is wizard-based to help guide you through the steps, from importing your data to analysis to the presentation of the results. Attivio is efficient at synthesizing diverse sets of data.
You’ll also find advanced business analytics tools such as NLP and knowledge graphing.
The attraction of Tableau is in its visuals. This product excels at presenting your data with compelling dashboards that can be easily shared with colleagues and customers. Tableau helps you make sense of your data and fosters collaboration with its mobile app.
There’s also a free version of this product.
Summary: Business Analytics Tools are for Everyone
The power of business analytics tools may have been confined to the world’s largest companies, but they are now available to everyone.
If you want to truly understand your business data and use those numbers to pull ahead of the competition, your starting point is right here.