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The Growth of Business Analytics

Business analytics continues to play an integral role in how companies make decisions and come up with business strategies. In fact, research shows that 65% of global enterprises plan to increase analytics spending. Consequently, professionals who can bring data skills to the table are in high demand.

“Using data analytics is a very effective way to have influence in an organization,” says Jan Hammond, who teaches the online course Business Analytics at Harvard Business School. “If you’re able to go into a meeting and other people have opinions, but you have data to support your arguments and your recommendations, you’re going to be influential.”

Fortune recently explored the growing demand behind business analytics—and how students can learn the highly sought-after skills.


Business analytics and data science are often intertwined terms, but experts say understanding the differences is key.

“Business analytics is concerned with extracting meaningful insights from and visualizing data to facilitate the decision-making process, whereas data science is focused on making sense of raw data using algorithms, statistical models, and computer programming,” Matthew Gavin, Marketing Manager at Harvard Business School Online, says.

Business analytics has influenced nearly every industry to date—from tech to media.

“The way we think about business analytics now—it’s a little bit of everything for everybody,” says Devanshu Mehrotra, curriculum developer and lead instructor at General Assembly. “And the idea is, since data is being democratized, and the idea is that specific organizations should own their data, they should be responsible for their data, then it’s important for there to be data translators.”


According to Fortune, there are three key foundations to business analytics.

Domain expertise: business fundamentals and relevant industry knowledge

Technical know-how: programming, data analysis, data visualization

Storytelling: translating data trends to business needs

Additionally, professionals should be familiar with data tools such as SQL, Python, and Power BI.

“Multiple tools should be in your repertoire, (so) that you pick the tool based on the problem, not try and shove every problem into the two tools that you know,” Mehrotra says. “And that’s why I’m always like—it’s do you understand the why before you understand the how.”


A number of top colleges and universities offer programs focused specifically on business analytics. But Mehrotra says students can actually learn just as effectively, if not more, through a bootcamp or short program as these types of courses often teach the latest skills from instructors with recent industry experience.

“To me, I think long form education, specifically around these areas are not very impactful and not a good return on investment,” Mehrotra says. “I think short form and creating your own journey, so as to speak, is important and I do think that some kind of short form educational programs are a very important part of that.”

Sources: Fortune, Harvard Business School Online

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