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May 26, 2023

Small Businesses Need to Utilize Business Analytics Now More Than Ever

Sponsored Content provided by Robert Burrus - Dean , Cameron School of Business - UNC-Wilmington

This piece was contributed by Aruna Lakshmanan, instructor of Business Analytics within CSB.

In today’s data-driven business environment, organizations are increasingly relying on analytics to make informed decisions, gain organizational success and a competitive edge. The explosion in available data and the need for gaining insights that will lead to profitability and success has led to the development and exponential growth of the field of Business Analytics. This blog post discusses the applications and growth of business analytics, how it can be used in organizations of all sizes, and its promising future. 

Business analytics is the process of using quantitative methods to derive insights from data to drive strategic decision-making. It is a discipline at the intersection of statistics, management, and information sciences, with a vast array of applications in diverse industries and areas. The four major applications of analytics are: 

  1. Descriptive Analytics where historical data is examined to uncover trends and patterns
  2. Predictive Analytics where the information uncovered is used to forecast future outcomes
  3. Prescriptive Analytics where advanced techniques are employed to determine which potential outcomes will yield the best results in a given situation with its constraints
  4. Diagnostic Analytics which is used to identify the root cause of a problem. These methods are used in a variety of industries including healthcare, insurance, finance, retail, entertainment, tech, communication, social media, and sports
These data-driven approaches have been employed by organizations to make informed business decisions in many areas to optimize marketing campaigns, forecast demands, manage inventory, improve financial processes, identify new revenue areas, retain and acquire new customers, leverage social media, and analyze employee performance. Many large corporations have successfully used analytics to achieve desired outcomes. 

Amazon and Netflix have used analytics to offer product recommendations; Uber Eats to optimize delivery times and routes; McDonald’s and Starbucks to offer better customer experience, and many professional sports teams use analytics to enhance team performance and make operational improvements. 

While most large corporations have adopted the use of data insights and data-driven decision-making, many small and medium businesses lag in leveraging the power of business analytics. Wilmington is home to many such businesses that can also benefit from an analytics-based approach, particularly considering seasonal variations in population and business. For example, analytics can help Wilmington businesses
  • target marketing efforts and promotions based on seasonal changes in the population
  • engage better with clients and improve customer satisfaction and retention
  • leverage social media and build a better website
  • make informed decisions about hiring, and attract better talent 
  • monitor competitor activities and promotions
Many of these businesses already have data at their disposal, whether obtained through formal data collection schemes or informally collected over time. For those that do not, companies offering subscription-based services for data collection, storage, and analysis have also grown in popularity in recent years.

UNCW’s Cameron School of Business is well-positioned to address the business analytics needs of our local community and beyond. The university offers both undergraduate degrees and concentrations in business analytics and a flexible, fully online, accelerated master’s degree in business analytics. Students graduate with strong technical skills like computing, statistical modeling, and data visualization, as well as soft skills like critical thinking and communication with a goal of being able to use analytics to solve specific business problems. Professional development workshops and short courses that serve to meet immediate needs are also offered through the Cameron School of Business. 

Our students have found internships and employment with diverse industries all over the country in multiple capacities. Students in our graduate program are from all over the world with many already employed in diverse industries, looking to build analytical skills to enhance job performance and add value to their business. 

The growth of business analytics has been exponential. The amount of data being generated globally has skyrocketed, and there is now an abundance of digital technologies and powerful analytic tools leading to an abundance of opportunities to extract actionable insights. According to Market Research Future (MRFR), the business analytics market is projected to hit USD 78.12 billion with a compounded growth rate (CGR) of 8.5% between 2022 and 2030, mainly driven by greater demand for informed business planning and social media use. 

The future of business analytics is bright, driven by trends like real-time analytics, cloud-based processes, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. With increased investment in business analytics, we can expect to see increases in organizational efficiency, profitability, and growth in many sectors. To a medium or small business, using business analytics may seem daunting at first, but there are many resources available to help small businesses get started. In a world increasingly becoming reliant on information and gathering data, businesses that leverage the power of business analytics may find themselves at a competitive advantage.

Local Wilmington businesses interested in exploring opportunities to partner with student interns (guided by professors) can contact the Director of the Congdon School of Supply Chain, Business Analytics, and Information Systems, Dr. Cem Canel at [email protected].

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