They say that knowledge is power, and this philosophy has never been more true in the business world. If you can’t understand what’s actually going on in your operations, you have no way of knowing how to navigate the business paths that lay ahead. Business analytics tools were designed to help companies surface the intelligence they need to make bold business decisions.
What are Business Analytics Tools?
Business analytics are powerful technology tools that support data analysis for big-picture business planning. These tools for business analytics encompass data-driven processes such as statistical analysis, mathematical calculations and programming, but also broader business functions like project management, budgeting, and financial planning. Generally speaking, analytics tools work with pre-prepared data to unlock intelligence that can help improve productivity, identify market opportunities, grow profits, and even enhance the customer experience.
Benefits of Business Analytics Tools
The benefits of tools for business analytics are plentiful. Here’s a glimpse at some of the benefits you can achieve by gaining skills and leveraging business analytics tools.
By monitoring performance of sales efforts and operational processes, analytics can help improve sales win rates and mitigate bad sales opportunities. Data analysis teams can build statistical models based on historical data to predict where the best opportunities lie and provide more control over sales and business initiatives.
Better Decision Making
Business analytics solutions use statistical functions and data exploration to investigate which activities work best so they can be used optimally. Analysis can provide better decision support for everything from marketing and demand generation campaigns to competitive programs and industry-focused efforts.
High-level Business Analysis
Tools for business analytics bring together data from an array of key applications like CRM and marketing solutions, retail and point of sale systems, supply chain and inventory management processes – giving you a holistic view of business activity and helping to provide a roadmap moving forward.
Enhance the Customer Experience
Data analytics are great at generating insights that are often hidden from view, and turning them into viable strategies to improve the customer experience. Both quantitative and qualitative data can be analyzed to give behavioral insights into customer activity, including things like camera images, videos, online chat strings with customers, chatbot data, and much more.
10 Best Business Analytics Tools
Following is a list of ten popular, in-demand business analytics tools that can change the way you look at your corporate and customer data.
It may not seem sexy, but Excel is perhaps the most common and versatile tool used by business analysts. It is inexpensive, easy to use, and has a powerful set of features such as pivot tables and charts, conditional formatting, XLOOKUP, and much more to manage large volumes of data.
Tableau is an expansive visual analytics platform that can connect to hundreds of different data sources to create customizable data visualizations, maps, and dashboards. Data discovery and data cleaning are available to help create analytical models quickly and easily. Statistical functions help perform in-depth analyses and deep pattern predictions.
SAS provides business analytics software that helps users visually explore data and automatically match key relationships, outliers, and clusters. It is full of statistical tools and can use AI and machine learning to simplify and speed data analysis, and it is designed to ingest data from a wide range of data sources and can handle complex analytical models. Add-on modules are also available for IoT, data mining, visualization, text analysis, forecasting and much more.
4. Microsoft Power BI
Power BI is an analytics platform that gives nontechnical business users the tools they need to aggregate, analyze, visualize, and share data with interactive user reports. It provides data warehousing features including data preparation and data discovery, as well as identifying data-driven trends. It also offers an intuitive user interface for users familiar with Excel and offers integration with other MS products.
5. Tibco Spotfire
Tibco is a business analytics tool that offers a wide range of product capabilities, from data and API integration to visual analytics, report, data science and more. Spotfire is the company’s most advanced analytics platform, offering interactive visualization, data preparation, enterprise-grade governance, and advanced data analytics.
Zoho Analytics is a self-service BI and data analytics platform that incorporates data from multiple sources to create cross-functional reports and dashboards. It offers a simple interface with drag-and-drop design features, and the ability to drill down into visualization details. It also features a smart assistant to help with reporting and KPI widgets that leverage AI and natural language processing.
7. Qlik Sense
Qlik Sense is a cloud-based analytics tool for creating data visualizations, interactive dashboards and charts. Users can develop and embed visual analytics into other applications as simple mashups or fully integrated services. Analytics can be deployed across public, private and hybrid clouds as well.
MicroStrategy combines self-service data preparation and visual data discovery into a complete enterprise analytics platform. It provides integrations with any enterprise resource such as databases, mobile devices systems, enterprise directories, cloud apps and access control systems, and requires only a basic knowledge of programming, SQL and data analytics.
Sisense is a business analytics tool that gives users the ability to run extensive analysis on complex data in any size or format in order to uncover business insights. It offers a single interface that can be used without the need for scripting or coding, and can analyze data from multiple data sources and generate visualization and dashboarding to simplify analysis.
Domo is a cloud-based business analytics tool that integrates data from multiple sources to provide analytical insights and improved workflows. It offers micro- and macro-level visibility into data and provides a real-time view for users. Modules can create personalized experiences for workers that use mobile devices such as shop floor workers or restaurant managers to create real-time insights into customers.
Popular Open-source Business Analytics Tools
In addition to the analytical solutions highlighted above, there are a number of key open-source analytical foundations that business analysts will be asked to utilize. These are some of the most popular open-source tools for business analytics.
R Analytics is based on the R programming language, an open-source language used for statistical computing and graphics, statistical analysis and data mining. R supports a variety of analytical modeling techniques such as classical statistical tests, clustering, time-series analysis, linear and nonlinear modeling, and much more.
Apache Spark is an open-source unified analytics engine for large-scale data processing. Spark provides an interface for programming clusters with implicit data parallelism and fault tolerance. It can be used for batch and streaming data, SQL analytics, data science at scale, and machine learning algorithms.
Apache Storm is a free, open-source distributed real-time computation system that reliably processes unbounded streams of data, similar to what Hadoop does for batch processing. The platform is fast, scalable, fault-tolerant and integrates with the queueing and database technologies most companies already use.
Pig and Hive
Pig is a tool for business analytics used to perform analysis and data manipulation operations in Hadoop. Pig abstraction is at a higher level than Hive and contains less line of code than MapReduce. Hive, originally developed by Facebook, is also built on top of the Hadoop framework and processes structured data, drives the Hive Query Language, and helps turn data into reports.
Career Options in Business Analytics
Training in business analytics gives technology professionals an opportunity to work in a number of fields collecting and interpreting data to improve business operations. Business analysts leverage business analytics tools and skills like data analysis, problem-solving, communications, and project management, and can work in a variety of industries and sectors. Here are a few career options from Indeed for business analysts.
Operations Research Analyst
Operations research analysts collect data and create modeling reports to present information to team leaders. They are charged with identifying areas of improvement, optimizing the efficiency of the workforce and with production operations.
Market Research Analyst
Market research analysts use data to evaluate industry market conditions and trends and make a recommendation on how and when to release a new product or service. They are also important players in measuring marketing campaign metrics and determining how to optimize them moving forward.
The role of a programmer analyst is to evaluate and recommend the best software applications that their company can use. Their day-to-day includes testing solutions, creating new programs, managing the maintenance and upkeep of currently used applications, and troubleshooting the coding of apps.
A business analyst works with extended project teams to find better ways to run a series of processes or workflows. Their responsibilities include gathering requirements of existing systems, identifying areas for improvement, prototyping and modeling product and workflow solutions, and creating and presenting reports and trends.
Data Scientist and Data Architect
Data scientists use their science and mathematical skills to evaluate and interpret data, creating reporting models to help companies establish business goals and creating data-driven solutions to complex problems. Data architects are responsible for identifying data collection needs, designing and troubleshooting a data management system, and creating a method for collecting data from multiple data sources.
Conclusion: How You Can Start Your Career in Business Analytics
Getting started in the business analytics arena is easier than you may think. The Business Analytics Certificate Program from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management is designed to hone your skill sets and prepare you for an exciting set of career options in the field of business analysis.
The course focuses on several key skill sets, including: apriori algorithms, business analytics, descriptive statistics, interactive dashboards, linear regression, and logistic regression. The key modules of the course include real-world training on data analytics, business analytics with Excel, SQL databases, R programming for data analytics and data science, data visualiztion with tools for business analytics like Tableau, and more.