The rise of business analytics tools and business analytics software has made a monumental difference in the careers of business analysts. Business analysts today need to understand how to store and analyze data, have the skills to present data in visually compelling ways, and use analytics to predict and prescribe recommendations.
In this blog post, we will share some of the tools that business analysts regularly use. We’ll start with a few of the most common programming languages: SQL, Python, and Java. Then, we’ll look at the data visualization tool Tableau and the statistical software platform SPSS. Let’s get started with the programming languages that are integral to business analytics.
SQL stands for Structured Query Language. SQL is open-source and considered to be the standard programming language. Business analysts who are skilled in SQL will be prepared to query databases for information that they need.
Business analysts use SQL to store, manage, and retrieve data from a relational database. SQL can also be used to edit and update information in such a database.
Dave Simmen, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Ahana, says that SQL proficiency will be crucial to the future of analytics:
“The next evolution of analytics foresees that a single database can no longer be the solution to support a wide range of analytics as data will be stored in both data lakes and a range of other databases. SQL analytics will be needed for querying both the data lake and other databases. We’ll see this new disaggregated stack become the dominant standard for analytics with SQL-based technologies…”
As the amount of data and databases at our fingertips continue to increase exponentially, business analysts who have a firm grasp of SQL will be better prepared to succeed.
While SQL is typically used to retrieve and extract data, Python’s high-level programming language is used for many purposes and applications. Python features over 200,000 packages, can conduct a great deal of analysis on its own, and also integrate with third-party packages for machine learning and data visualization.
- Automatization & replicability: Python repeats tasks so that humans don’t have to, including repeat analyses, internet data collection, and resolving text data errors.
- Working with Big Data: Once a dataset exceeds one million rows, it can no longer fit into Excel. Business analysts can use Python to analyze and interpret information within large datasets and create visualizations of that information, such as charts or graphs.
- Advanced modeling: With Python, business analysts can use econometrical modeling to price forecast, employ clusterization algorithms to perform market segmentation, use tree-based algorithms to classify products, and estimate the price elasticity of products.
Business analysts who know how to use Python will significantly enhance their ability to analyze, visualize, and explain data to others. Their work is both likely to be more efficient and less prone to error.
Java is the most popular programming language and development platform. As a cross-form platform that’s object-oriented — meaning, it is built around data or objects rather than functions and logic — Java is a universal language.
Here are just two of the applications of Java in big data management in the business setting.
Hadoop is an open-source framework that stores and processes large datasets written in Java. Highly scalable, fast, and distributed, Hadoop uses Java to offer software used as a business analytics tool. Some features of Hadoop include:
- Fast data processing
- Fault tolerance
- Ease of use
- Data locality
Hadoop can be used with additional analytics tools that process big data, including:
- Apache Hive
Apache Spark™ processes big data workloads within an open-source, distributed system. It’s written in Java and is a rising star in the world of big data computations. Project Pro refers to Spark as the “Swiss army knife for real-time analytics.” With Spark, business analysts can:
- Gain insights that equip them to make decisions regarding significant business issues like credit risk potential and customer satisfaction.
- Process tens of millions of records within minutes to identify potential partners, vendors, or customers.
- Help organizations to save on costs, such as in the case of healthcare institutions. Business analysis can use Spark to identify patients who need home health services to reduce the risk of readmittance and higher hospital costs.
Now, let’s move on to the data visualization tools - Tableau and SPSS.
The Tableau platform is a key business analytics tool that helps people visualize and understand data. Characterized by translating data into actionable insights, Tableau is an intuitive, powerful platform that business analysts use to visualize data, extract meaningful insights, and inform business decisions.
Take a look at just a few of the ways companies use Tableau as a business analytics tool to make sense of their massive amounts of data:
- Sysco Labs used Tableau to provide visualizations to their sales representatives, which helped increase customer-placed orders by 46%.
- Signet Jewelers saved over a quarter-of-a-million dollars by using Tableau to create a sole maintenance dashboard that enabled their teams to find data patterns.
- Cigna reduced opioid prescriptions by 25% by creating an Opioid Drug Utilization report in Tableau.
Tableau equips business analysts with the tools they need to visualize and present data in valuable ways.
SPSS is a software package that can conduct a variety of marketing analyses using customer databases. Explicitly designed to offer advanced statistical analysis, SPSS features:
- Machine learning algorithms
- Text analysis
- Open source extensibility
- Integration with big data
- Seamless deployment into applications
Here are some of the ways that companies have leveraged SPSS as a business analytics tool:
- Software company and IT service provider DATEV leveraged SPSS to personalize campaigns and correspondence so customers would only receive information most relevant to them. Through SPSS, DATEV was able to identify customer needs and desires and respond accordingly, which cut the company’s marketing costs by up to 50%.
- Fleetpride, which sells parts and provides services for heavy-duty trucks and trailers, has used SPSS to improve efficiencies in several ways. Through SPSS analytics and modeling, Fleetpride has better-managed staffing levels, reduced overtime spending, and decreased errors in product laboring.
- Electricity, gas, and water distributor and supplier ENTEGA gained a competitive advantage by using SPSS. In response to SPSS analytics that revealed patterns in customer responses to various offers, ENTEGA further targeted its marketing efforts, increasing response rates by 500% and sales by 400%.
Business analysts can use SPSS to empower their companies by highlighting areas where efficiencies could be increased and costs could be cut or pointing out new opportunities for effective marketing and sales efforts.
Advance Your Career with an MS in Business Analytics
Do you want to leverage programming languages, business analytics tools, and business analytics software to strengthen your position? Are you captivated by looking for data patterns and determining compelling ways to present what you see to others? If so, the online Master of Science in Business Analytics from St. Bonaventure University could be your perfect fit.
During the 100% online MS in Business Analytics program, you’ll gain hands-on experience with key technologies, including many of those mentioned in this post. You’ll have the opportunity to customize your degree toward your career goals through electives in finance, marketing, communication, cybersecurity, leadership, and more.
With the flexibility to log in anywhere at any time, you can succeed in your studies while maintaining your current personal and professional obligations. No GMAT or GRE is required, and the program offers multiple start dates per year.
Earn an affordable degree from a world-class accredited university. You’ll graduate ready to apply business analytics tools and software to real-world datasets, leading to meaningful marketplace solutions.
St. Bonaventure University’s dedicated staff are ready to answer your questions and help you prepare for what’s next in your career. Schedule an appointment with an Enrollment Advisor to discuss your future in business analytics.