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Are business analysis and analytics the same thing?

Are business analysis and analytics the same or there is something common between them? In this post, I am going to examine the topic – business analysis vs business analytics. I will also examine if they have a symbiotic relationship with the help of a case study.

Business Analysis is a discipline and encompasses wide range of activities. The primary objective of business analysis is to solve business problems. Business Analysis includes the following activities:

  • Problem/needs analysis or requirement Analysis
  • Requirement modeling
  • Solution analysis
  • Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA)
  • Risk Analysis
  • Feasibility Analysis
  • Organization Readiness Assessment
  • Change Management

Organisations have to evolve and transform themselves in order to survive and remain competitive in the market. Business Analysis plays a key role in enabling the organisation to transform efficiently. Business Analysts are responsible for carrying out the business analysis activities.

Let’s take an example where business analysts play an important role.

A manufacturing company is finding it difficult to meet the quality standards of the deliverables promised to the customer. This problem was solved by implementing an ERP system as well as introducing more robust processes of communicating the product specifications to the manufacturing team by the Sales team.

As you can see, solving of the business problem, not only involved transitioning to a new software solution (ERP) but also a process adaptation. Business analysts not only help in recommending the solution but also help the organization in implementing the solution efficiently.

What is Business Analytics?

Business Analytics is defined as the scientific process of transforming data into insights for making better decisions. Using data to make decisions is not a new phenomenon. It has been into practice for a long long time. However, it was only in the 1950s that tools were developed to capture and analyze large amounts of data to enable quicker decision making.

Business analytics solutions typically use data, statistical and quantitative analysis to measure past performance to guide an organization’s business planning.

The real magic of Business Analytics is its capability to predict and prescribe future course of actions by analyzing current and historical data patterns.

Types of Business Analytics

There are four types of business analytics -  decisive analytics, descriptive analytics, predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics.

Let’s take an example to understand business analytics.

Many of you must have used LinkedIn. LinkedIn always shows you a list titled “People you may know"

LinkedIn has an estimated 225 million users. The “People you may know” list involves matching 225 million against 225 million to find common threads. The basis of this analysis could be connection of connections (1st , 2nd and 3rd degree connections) along with organisational overlap and many such parameters. Making sense of such large amounts of data is the domain of analytics (in this case prescriptive analytics). The Analytics tools use current and historical data (registered users, their connections, their organisations etc) to prescribe potential connections.

But is there anything common, after all? Now the big question – is there a relationship between Business Analytics and Business Analysis?

Why did LinkedIn use analytics to create “People you may know section”, it must have cost them a bomb. The reason was to increase the number of users and hits to its website, as that was critical to its survival.

Was this a business problem? Of course, yes. The business problem/challenge was to increase the number of users/hits to the website to grow. Many solution options must have been shortlisted, “People you may know” section was one of the solution, which was found to be a recommended one. This usually comes under the domain of a business analyst. A business Analyst conducts cost-benefit, feasibility and risk analysis to recommend a solution. That’s the reason, it was chosen, implemented and actually succeeded in its objective. Since then, the number of registered users and hits have increased many fold.

So, what is the answer to the question – is there a relationship between Business Analytics and Business Analysis?

In my view, Business Analysis encompasses business analytics as one of the means to find solutions to the business problems. For Business Analysts, it may prove to be a valuable tool, especially in the cases where large amounts of data is available to predict or prescribe solutions.

Guest post by Abhishek Srivastava at Techcanvass.com

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