In the abstract, business analytics is the study of financial, economic, consumer and production data through statistical investigation. The simplest explanation of business analytics is that it attempts to find covariance and derive probable causality; the end goal is to spot trends and improve operations. Modern business analytics is multifaceted, competitive and increasingly specialized. It is more important to understand the method of business analytics than all of its potential applications.
Applying the Scientific Method to Business Data
"Big Data" is the name given to the contemporary movement towards gathering and mining structured and unstructured data for business purposes. Companies want data scientists to dive into Big Data and come out with new, profitable insights.
Data scientists apply data-discovery tools (such as SAS and Excel) to test theories about consumer behavior, price trends, risk management, supply and demand, and other market trends. Think of it as predictive analytics performed through modeling and experimental design. Once a meaningful insight has been reached, the role of the business analyst is to suggest business decisions that support the larger strategy.
Acquiring Business Analytics Knowledge and Competencies
Business analytics meets at the intersection of multiple separate disciplines. The analyst must have an understanding of information technology and have computational skills with modern devices. The analyst should also understand basic economics, business strategy, consumer behavior and risk management. Some may need to have marketing knowledge; others require cyber security and fraud detection training. Business analytics is built on mathematical languages and reasoning.
Like all career paths, education and training can help prepare an aspiring worker for the demands of business analytics. Look for professional certifications and advanced degrees in business analytics, or try to find temp work at a relevant firm.