Business analytics vs. data science
The more advanced areas of business analytics can start to resemble data science, but there is a distinction. Even when advanced statistical algorithms are applied to data sets, it doesn’t necessarily mean data science is involved. There are a host of business analytics tools that can perform these kinds of functions automatically, requiring few of the special skills involved in data science.
True data science involves more custom coding and more open-ended questions. Data scientists generally don’t set out to solve a specific question, as most business analysts do. Rather, they will explore data using advanced statistical methods and allow the features in the data to guide their analysis.
Business analytics applications
Business analytics tools come in several different varieties:
- Data visualization tools
- Business intelligence reporting software
- Self-service analytics platforms
- Statistical analysis tools
- Big data platforms
Self-service has become a major trend among business analytics tools. Users now demand software that is easy to use and doesn’t require specialized training. This has led to the rise of simple-to-use tools from companies such as Tableau and Qlik, among others. These tools can be installed on a single computer for small applications or in server environments for enterprise-wide deployments. Once they are up and running, business analysts and others with less specialized training can use them to generate reports, charts and web portals that track specific metrics in data sets.