Business analytics applications used to be known primarily as the reason so many stacks of Excel spreadsheets were littered throughout the offices and cubicles of sales and marketing staffers charged with making sense of all these enormous data pools.
But as eCRM Guide reports, it’s the dawn of a new day for business analytics now that all these data mining and data warehousing applications have been seamlessly inserted into modern CRM and business intelligence applications used by millions of workers in every industry.
Sure, businesses are still gathering and interpreting historical data, but now they can do so instantly online — mixing and matching various corporate data, blending in external data and creating reports and snapshots of market trends, customer buying patterns and so on … all in the pursuit of information that can be turned into growth and profitability. In the process, business analytics and intelligence are moving beyond analyzing what happened in the past to trying to predict and influence the future.
Business analytics used to be a very geeky endeavor practiced by hard-core IT people skilled in the arcane arts of data access, data mining, data analysis, and, of course, data warehousing. Those days are largely gone — and so are the reams of lovely spreadsheets they spawned.
While the goals of business analytics (BA) remain the same — to gather and interpret data to make better business decisions, optimize processes and pursue new opportunities — the tools are now far more user-friendly, useful and plentiful than they were 10 years ago.
Many of today’s BA tools deliver information online rather than in static reports, typically providing executive dashboards that show high-level measurements of corporate performance with a few mouse clicks. Dashboards allow senior executives, as well as sales and marketing people, to drill down to details by, for example, clicking on a chart to see the numbers behind it.