The best business analytics tools for analysis and successMay 18, 2023
Every business, no matter how small, needs business analytics tools and techniques to keep tabs on how the business is doing on a day-to-day and month-to-month basis. This tool is created by tech companies and come in the form of different types of computer software.
The software includes business systems and techniques that collect and save data , for analysis and present it in a readable, understandable format. It’s the best way to record all your company info and keep up-to-date about what’s happening in your business.
With this knowledge, you can identify trends and patterns and create new, seamless business models that are completely personalised to suit your business’s services and products. No need to search Google for advice.
The importance of tools for analysing data
It goes without saying – if you want to achieve business success, you need to know all about your particular industry, and have a good idea of exactly who your customers or audience will be, so that you can attract them to use your business services or buy your company’s products.
To do this, you need data sources – and you need to be able to access this data easily and quickly to get the results you’re after. This is where business analytics comes in – these platforms analyse your company data to give you the answers you need, when you need them.
Of course, your company data is divided into different areas – marketing, recorded on Microsoft Word, finances, available in Microsoft Excel, etc. And you need all this data in one spot so that it can be analysed efficiently.
Thanks to the development of modern technology, business analytics tools is a type of data science that gathers all the data together for analysis for you, which saves you time and effort. They could also find additional data required before completing an analysis.
Best of all, data is kept in real time, which means that it’s constantly being updated. Security is often another problem, and this is also taken into account.
Why we created business analytic tools
Right until the 1970s, many businesses were analysing data manually to compare statistics. Technology wasn’t updated enough to do this on computer, so the entire process was a lengthy one.
But with better technology and more reliable databases, all sorts of analytics software became available to help businesses analyse data faster and more effectively.
However, many of the new tools that became available were so complicated that they were impossible to use, unless you had lots of tech expertise. And this meant that companies couldn’t integrate the software into their business systems.
With time, this problem has become easier to solve, but the programme often requires training, machine learning and certification before it can be used.
What are the tools for business analytics?
- Business analytics tools are different types of software that take details from the various business systems a company has and combine them so that they can be reviewed and analysed to help improve the business.
- This analytics platform includes specific methods of predicting a business’ progress, offers statistics on different areas and keeps data saved for future use. This helps businesses to see the bigger picture so that they can make their business more efficient, productive and profitable.
- The programme covers everything from operations to converting customers, marketing and Human Resources.
- Business owners don’t need to analyse the data – the business analytic platform does it for them. It analyses the data and helps them make better decisions about their individual business needs.
- Businesses usually have more than one type of business analytics platforms so that owners and managers can have a complete overview of every aspect of the business. This way, they are able to see any areas that have weaknesses and sort out any problems. They can even use this for forecasting future profit results.
- This platform gives businesses a full understanding of how their businesses are doing at any given time. They also provide data on how to compete in the current market, improve customer service and be the best they can be in their industry.
Ask yourself the following questions before you choose a business analytics platform
Before you choose your business analytics tools, you need to ask yourself the following questions to see just how much knowledge you have about your industry. You also need to find out about your company's future prospects and know something about your competitors.
So ask yourself:
- What data do I already have? Most companies have some type of business analytics data. Work out what you have, and what you need before you choose a business analytics tool.
- Who are my customers? You need a clear understanding of your audience, and the people most likely to want your services and products.
- How do I reach my customers? You need to know what type of communication you need to reach the customers you’re aiming at.
- What do I know about my industry? It’s vital that you are well-versed in every aspect of your industry. The more you know, the more likely you will be to serve your customers well.
- What has happened in the past in this industry? You need to know how other companies handled any setbacks, or how they improved their services and products.
- What is happening currently in my industry? You need to keep abreast of all trends so that you can predict new ones, and offer your customers the latest in the business.
- Who are my competitors? It’s important to know who else is in the same industry as you are, and what they are doing successfully to reach their market.
- What will happen in the future? It’s important that you also predict what is going to happen in your industry. If you have a good idea of previous issues and what is happening now, this will make your job much easier.
What you need to look for in business analytics programmes
- It’s difficult to have a clear idea of who your customer is, and what he or she wants. This is where business analytics programmes can be very helpful.
- You don’t just have one business system; you have different ones to for each department. It’s time consuming to gather data from all of these systems to do the sophisticated type of analysis that software can do for you. And the programme not only does it quickly, but more efficiently, too.
- You want data that is easily accessible whenever you need it. You want to be able to share this data with others in the business so that they can use it to their advantage, too, to have key insights into their part of the business and make better decisions as a result.
- You need secure data that is up-to-date and regularly updated. Data analysis that you can access quickly and efficiently without any problems so that you can gain insights and make the right business decisions.
- This type of automated data is not only at your fingertips; it also gives you the big picture.
The 4 main types of widely used business analytics tools
There are 4 distinct types of analytic tools, and together they will help you make better decisions in your business.
Let’s take a look at each type of analytics tool, when it’s best to use the particular type and how, combined, they all can play an important role in your business’s success.
It’s not enough for a business to have business analytics software – you need to know what the software will do for your business, and when it’s best to use it.
These 4 types of business tools cover all the bases – there’s a descriptive tool, a diagnostic one, software to help you predict future success or setbacks, and a tool that is prescriptive.
Let’s check them out one by one: Each of these tools is important to use in your business, and will help you understand the data it reveals. The insights they give you are excellent and timeous, and will help you make your business more successful.
1. Descriptive Business Analytics
The most commonly used business analytics tool, because data is easily available. Descriptive Business Analytics looks at past events. It tells you ‘what’:
- How much your company sold
- How productive your company was
- How many customers you had in a past period, say the last 3 months.
This type of business analytics programme gives 2 different types of reports: ad hoc reports and canned reports.
- Canned reports covers a specific subject and has been used before. For example, a monthly report sent by your PR company or ad agency giving results for a particular campaign.
- Ad hoc reports are unscheduled reports and dashboards. These are only given when you ask a specific question, for instance: 'what types of people liked our Instagram business profile?'
You could also ask: 'how many people engaged in my latest Instagram post?' As this type of reporting isn’t specific, and changes every time, it will give you a better idea of the results.
How to use Descriptive Business Analytics
- This type of tool based business analytics creates reports that can be repeated for a particular duration, eg a weekly or monthly sales report that is completely automated and doesn’t require lots of admin to fill in.
- Be aware: this is the most basic type of analytics tool. It will not create a call to action (CTA) or analyse why something happened, or why results are bad. For that you need the next type of business analytics platform - Diagnostic Business Analytics.
2. Diagnostic Business Analytics
Just like Descriptive Business Analytics, this type of business analytics platform uses business data from the past to answer a particular question you may have.
Interestingly, this is one type of business analytics platform that many companies don’t use. They prefer to find out why, through Descriptive Business Analytics, and then also want to find out ‘what happened?’.
Diagnostic Business Analytics tells you:
- Why sales increased or decreased in a particular time frame
- Why you have an influx of new customers
- Why some of your products are doing better than others.
Diagnostic Business Analytics helps you work out cause and effect – why something happened. It’s broken down into 2 categories, query and drill downs and discover and alerts:
- Query and drill downs give you more detail in the report, for instance whether sales decreased because the time frame had a public holiday, or increased because of a particular ad campaign.
- Discover and alerts predict a potential problem before it happens. For instance, there could be a long weekend coming up, which will mean that sales for that particular time frame will decrease. You can also use the softwareto ‘discover’ your highest performer or the person best suited to being promoted.
How to use Diagnostic Business Analytics
- In this type of analytics tool, the answers are more detailed because the questions delve deeper than in Descriptive Business Analytics.
- Because this type of software is so detailed, it would be a pity to leave it out entirely.
3. Predictive Business Analytics
This software is more advanced than the previous 2; it delves deeper into the data to find out what is likely to happen. It’s the most commonly used analytics programme and takes data about the past to predict the following:
- How long you can use your machines before they need to be maintained
- How likely it is that a particular financial decision could affect the business badly
- When loyal customers may leave and turn to competitors.
Businesses use this popular analytics tool to find trends, causes and similarities. It is broken down into 2 specific categories, predictive models and statistical models, both of which are always used together.
- Predictive models would take results of a sales prediction of, say, 2 different audiences buying a product, and give an idea of which audience would be the best.
- Statistical models comprise data based purely on statistics.
How to use Predictive Business Analytics
For analysis when using Predictive Business Analytics, you need to ask 3 questions:
- What is the problem I need to solve?
- How could this problem help me overcome problems in the future?
- What could I do if I found a solution to this problem?
- This software takes data, reviews it and looks at how to solve a problem.
- If you have already got the first 2 types of analytics platforms in place, this third programme will be much easier to use, as you already have the data you require and don’t need to look for it.
- Predictive Business Analytics takes you to the next step in the software evolution, which is Prescriptive Business Analytics.
4. Prescriptive Business Analytics
The fourth and final pillar in the analytics tools, Prescriptive Business Analytics guides the business owner towards taking specific action. It literally combines the other 3 analytics programmes and helps the business owner make a guided decision to act and be proactive.
This platform is often used by extremely specialised businesses, like finance companies, insurance, healthcare etc. This type of analytics programme takes guessing out of the equation and rates the following:
- How to adjust the price, taking product demand and other factors into consideration.
- How to choose the employees that will most benefit from training.
Prescriptive Business Analytics is broken down into 2 categories: Optimisation and Random Testing:
- Optimisation involves making the best use of a situation, for instance finding the right solution to a problem.
- Random Testing will give you insight into whether you are making the right choice. It will also suggest new choices that may give you an even better chance of success.
How to use Prescriptive Business Analytics
- Prescriptive Business Analytics uses all of the 4 analytics programmes to come to a solution. It’s important that you have done the groundwork using the other 3 analytics types of software first.
- This tool demands using established methods and procedures to achieve a particular result.
5 most popular business analytics tools
1. Microsoft Excel
Excel is one of the Microsoft Business intelligence tools that is vital in every office environment. It’s also one of the most popular business analytics programmes available worldwide, and is used by most business people for some sort of data analytics.
This versatile tool offers numerous analytical tools, including sharing of workbooks. It also enables users to work together in real-time. You can also upload data from all sorts of media to Excel, which makes it even more user-friendly.
On an Excel spreadsheet, which features columns and rows, you can format data , organise it and use it as a calculator too calculate the data, which makes analysing it so much easier to do. It’s used for various systems, from compiling data to analysing financial statements, charts, graphs, accounts, programming and project management.
2. Power BI
Another one of the Microsoft analytic tools, Power BI is a collection of different platform capabilities, apps, features and services. It enables users to turn data into understandable information that is easy to understand visually as well as intellectually. With this medium, you can connect your data together and share it.
It combines various different programmes together such as Microsoft Excel, so that you can get the best use out of your data , wherever and however you have it stored. Best of all, it’s easy to use, so everyone, from a business analyst to an employee in your company can operate the system.
Power BI consists of a number of different elements, including a Windows desktop app called ‘Power BI Desktop’, an online service called the ‘Power BI Service’ and various apps that make the platform usable on Windows, iOs and Android devices.
This extremely popular business analytics tool has various unique features that sets it apart from the rest, and is used by small businesses and large enterprises alike. The features include patented technology and in-memory processing, which enable the user to analyze data really quickly.
QlikView offers users a wide range of interactive tools to visualise data in different ways. It also offers AI (Artificial Intelligence) support that prepares the data and a unique ‘associative’ data engine so that users can explore data analytics in various ways.
Another stand-out development of this programme is its ability to source public or open source data in the analytics cloud, like weather and economic conditions, populations and business demographics, and use this to analyse the user’s data effectively.
This unique programme uses data visualization through colour, ie it shows the different relationships between all sorts of data analytics using colours as codes.
4 & 5. PIG and HIVE
These 2 partner programmes by Hadoop both enable businesses to process and analyse huge amounts of data at a time. PIG was designed for those who do not have programming knowledge, and HIVE, which was designed together with Facebook, processes and creates data discovery and analytics using a special language called SQL, which is relatively easy to understand (far more so than Java, for instance).
PIG is known for being able to analyse huge amounts of knowledge at a time, whereas HIVE is tailored to be used by analysts. As a result, PIG, which is faster, is commonly used by researchers and programmers, while HIVE is used mainly for data analytics.
Project management software for data: popular business analysis tools
Most businesses have a project management tool in place (for instance, here at maake we use Monday.com). These business intelligence tools enable managers and business owners to be able to look at the full picture of what their company is doing, which is, in a nutshell, business analysis. They know exactly who is doing what and when, when deadlines are met or missed, and what still needs to be done.
Project management software offers clear, detailed data mining tools – it captures information that can then be sent for statistical analysis.
What does a project management tool do?
- It is a business intelligence programme that manages projects
- The tool manages and tracks workflow throughout the business.
Users are able to add files and checklists online. They can even customise the programme so that it works best for their individual company.
How project management works with business intelligence platforms
Project management programmes all have an analytics platform that is usually relatively simple to use. This business intelligence tool enables users to create charts and analytics reports which they can then share with others, either in the programme itself or by email.
Analysts are able to see at a glance who is doing what in the company, how much is being achieved (eg in manufacture and sales), and how long each task is taking. Data can then be gathered and used for analysis in a business analytics tool.
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