Business analytics — a subset of data analytics — comprises the systematic use of technologies, methods and digital information to derive insights and enable fact-based decision-making for planning, management, operations, measurement and learning.
Companies with deep insights into customer behavior, market trends, internal operations and other business-critical factors can identify and act on new opportunities, improve efficiencies, cut costs and achieve strategic goals more quickly than competitors.
Citing a PwC survey, Harvard Business School reports, “highly data-driven organizations are three times more likely to report significant improvements in decision-making compared to those who rely less on data.”
The value hidden within large, complex datasets drives demand for strategic business managers with business-analytics expertise. Those with an advanced business degree in business analytics can meet the market demand for skills in data management. Through 2030, the need will expand much faster than the average of other career classifications, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
How Does Data Analytics Support Strategic Management?
Analytics enables companies to identify trends and patterns in historical and real-time data (descriptive analytics), develop options to achieve strategic goals (predictive analytics), and run statistical scenarios on those options to choose the most effective course forward (prescriptive analytics).
Using advanced analytics tools, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, companies gain advantages that include the following:
Identifying New Opportunities
Businesses that understand the strategic value of data analytics invest in advanced analytics platforms to interpret trends and patterns, adapt plans as conditions change and gain competitive advantages. For instance, research predicts the U.S. healthcare industry will increase investment in analytics by a compound annual growth rate of 19.2% between 2023 and 2030, according to Grand View Research, a market research and consulting company.
“Deployment of healthcare analytical platforms not only increases the productivity of the staff, but the overall patient management has been improved and the burden on caregivers has been minimized,” according to Grand View Research. In addition, it notes those systems are used in hospitals for strategic management and in clinical and research settings to innovate technologies, processes and treatments that improve patient outcomes and reduce costs.
Improving Operational Efficiency
Strategy leaders use enterprise-wide business analytics to streamline processes, cut costs, reduce waste, and prevent, detect and investigate fraud.
Fraud, waste and abuse are particularly insidious to a business’s health. While the financial cost is staggering — 2019 estimates placed it at nearly $1 trillion in the healthcare industry alone — there are soft costs that can be equally damaging.
E-commerce is acutely vulnerable to the soft costs of fraud and abuse, which include loss of customer trust, additional operational costs and tarnished brand reputation. The e-commerce sector extends well beyond online retail. In fact, two-thirds of all industrial shipments were initiated online in 2020.
Visibility into operations and administration enables business analysts to detect inconsistencies in data streams. Automated data analytics systems inspect each transaction and entry to ensure no anomaly goes undetected.
“By implementing proactive monitoring through a system that detects transaction anomalies and patterns, an organization can more effectively manage its risk of fraud, waste and abuse,” the accounting firm AGH advises.
Measuring Progress Toward Strategic Goals
Business analytics measure key performance indicators (KPI) that corporations use to determine if strategic initiatives are developing as planned. Managers use those insights to make data-based decisions to ensure completion on time and on budget.
KPIs for operating units are just as critical to achieving goals and gaining market advantages as they are for any other business unit. According to ThoughtSpot, the teams that collect, analyze and report data can use the following analytics-based metrics:
- The number of actionable trends and patterns identified per month
- How often strategic leaders use insights extracted from the data
- The accuracy of predictions made by the analytics team
- The pace at which analytics-based insights are generated
“It’s important to track how quickly your data analytics team can generate results. The faster they can work, the more value they will be able to provide,” according to ThoughtSpot.
How Do Strategic Managers Acquire Business Analytics Skills?
The Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Business Analytics Specialization online program from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) equips graduates with the skills and insights to capitalize on high-growth opportunities and pursue advanced roles in information systems and more.
SIUE’s program’s curriculum helps students explore strategic management and business analytics concepts through two relevant courses: the Introduction to Business Intelligence and Analytics course and the Business Analytics Capstone course. The program explores the integration of the two areas to help professionals:
- Identify and define business problems and generate and evaluate alternative courses of action.
- Implement a chosen course of action and assess its outcome in the context of a dynamic organization.
- Leverage current and emerging functional knowledge to accelerate decision-making processes.
The program is ideal for business professionals who want to enhance their technical skills to jumpstart their careers or gain an edge for career advancement. Graduates will thoroughly understand how strategic management and business analytics work together to benefit companies’ big-picture processes, database design and quantitative, detail-oriented information analysis.