What role does data analytics play in business?

Data Analytics. Two words seemingly everywhere these days. But what exactly is data analytics and how is it utilized in business?

We are surrounded by data in everything we do. Whenever we subscribe, attend, read, join, shop, and so much more, that information is pooled. Data analytics is the science of actually making sense and use of that information. This involves uncovering patterns and correlations and other insights.

In business, this information can help companies and organizations harness their data to find new opportunities, become more in tune with customers and other stakeholders, streamline processes, become more efficient, and more. A few of the many ways data analytics are used in business include helping reduce costs, making better decisions more quickly, learning what the customer needs and wants (or doesn’t) and providing those goods and services faster or more efficiently.

In manufacturing business, data analytics can harness information from machines’ output and efficiency and increase productivity. In the entertainment industry, companies can use data to analyze how long viewers and users spend playing games, watching shows, listening, etc., and use this to strategize ways to keep engagement high. They also have real, tangible information to provide advertisers, which ultimately increases revenue.

According to a Harvard Business Review briefing paper, by 2025, businesses will collectively be handling an estimated 175 zettabytes of data, according to the Internet and Jurisdiction Policy Network. Zettabytes are much bigger than terabytes – roughly one billion of them. With all this information on just about everything, it’s no wonder professionals are needed who can make sense of all of it.

“There is a growing sense of urgency to nail down strategies to share, embed, manage, innovate, and compete using enterprise-wide data. Becoming a truly data-driven enterprise—with all parts of the business making real-time decisions based on high-quality data that drive actionable insights—has proven elusive for a variety of reasons,” the briefing paper notes, highlighting as well the need to include ethical use of data governance within these parameters.

LinkedIn marks data analysis in the top 3 fastest growing skills among business professionals. Many companies still struggle to use the amount of data they have. Everyone knows it could be useful, but haven’t quite leveraged it.

Saint Vincent’s business school offers both a major and minor in business data analytics. Courses include data visualization, data mining, and various courses surrounding methodology and making use of large swaths of information. The degree involves a strong foundation in mathematics and analysis that helps degree-holders stand out in a growing industry.