Business analytics

Business analytics (BA) is broadly defined as a collection of tools that enable a company to access, transform, store, analyze, model and track business information. Business intelligence (BI) is an output of business analytics—reports and insights culled from the data that facilitate more informed business decision-making.

A key premise of BA is that the tools put powerful reporting capabilities in the hands of business users. IT is using these tools more than the business users they are designed for. Only 21%of marketing and 17%of sales personnel are leveraging their company’s BA tool kit. In addition, senior executives are more likely than lower-level staff to use BA solutions, whether they are corporate (47%), IT (45%), or financial managers (44%).

One reason for a lack of significant traction among mid-level managers may be the lack of a well defined strategy around BA and BI. An enterprise strategy for BA, tuned for individual stakeholders and aligned with business goals and outcomes, will help IT create a performance culture that understands the value of data. A successful BA/BI program will help IT leaders expand their influence, mitigate corporate politics, and prove IT’s value as a driver of business growth and competitive differentiation.

The most successful BA/BI initiatives tend to be those that IT facilitates but the business units “own.” IT plays an important role in articulating the value of BA solutions—but it should not serve as a service bureau for generating reports. End users will get the most value out of BA/BI if they use the tools directly, integrate them into their business activities, and learn how to customize them as needed to support changing priorities or new opportunities. IT should provide the proper training workshops and other resources to ensure that business users are getting the most out of their BA/BI solutions. Hands-on
tutorials, training videos and knowledge centers can accelerate deployment and increase the success rate of BI initiatives.

(From IBM white paper Buiness Analytics: Pushing Toward Relevance)

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