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What is Business Analytics?


As proponents of big data increasingly tout its benefits to businesses, discussions can get tangled up in the language of analysts and engineers. Simply stated, business analytics is the collection of statistical functions and mathematical processes that make sense out of raw data. 

Business analytics is one aspect of business intelligence, which is the sum of all your research tools and information infrastructure. Due to this close relationship, the terms business intelligence and business analytics are sometimes used interchangeably. Strictly speaking, business analytics focuses on statistical analysis of the information provided by business intelligence.

Standalone data is often ambiguous. It takes business analytics to determine what the information suggests and drive business impact. Decision makers don’t want 10,000-line spreadsheets delivered to their inboxes – they need reports that clearly indicate trends, challenges and opportunities. That is exactly what business analytics provides.

The heavy lifting is done by business analytics programs that organize and display data in familiar ways, such as visualizations, predictive analytics models and interactive dashboards. 

These applications help companies understand historic performance, identify obstacles to growth and find opportunities for product development. If knowledge is power, business analytics is the generator. The end goal is to deliver useful information as quickly as the incoming data will allow.


Many companies gather information from transactions, payroll systems, email campaigns and more. Without business analytics, the data are just values, variables and fields sitting on expensive servers. Business analytics software changes raw data into a real asset. 

Data mining and online analytical processing (OLAP) enable end users to see correlations among data sets, as well as dive more deeply into the information. In addition to surfacing relevant new insights, these programs allow analysts to spend more time reviewing results and formulating solutions instead of crunching numbers. 

Business analytics operates at three main levels:

  • Descriptive: Reviewing data to determine what has happened so far. Often, these are traditional reports that tell a story about current performance
  • Predictive: Data is run through algorithms or models in order to extrapolate trends that might indicate future challenges or opportunities
  • Prescriptive: Once a problem is identified, processes determine hypothetical outcomes for various courses of action

Business analytics existed prior to big data – even before computers. Advances in technology have made it more useful and responsive than ever before. For this reason, companies that wish to excel cannot afford to ignore the benefits offered by business analytics.

The Pentaho Business Analytics platform is designed to handle the ever-increasing demands on your big data infrastructure. Intuitive dashboards, easy ad hoc reporting and visual analytics allow users of all experience levels to perform insightful analyses of your data. 


Pentaho helps financial services firms identify growth, attract and retain customers, optimize operations, ensure compliance, detect fraud, and mitigate risk. Specific use cases include:

  • Targeting high value clients with tailored promotions and recommendations
  • Stability improvement of ATM networks with an easy to use reporting and analytics layer that can handle massive amounts of network and log data
  • Managing mortgage portfolio valuations by identifying which loans are at risk of prepayment or default

Read more detailed information about Pentaho for Financial Services use cases.


Pentaho helps government organizations take advantage of big data, streamline operations, and ensure transparency. Specific use cases include:

  • Utilizing self-service, real-time analytics to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse
  • Support and augmentation of "human decision-making" with automated algorithms and machine learning
  • Provisioning new cloud-based agency services

Read more detailed information about Pentaho for Government use cases.

Learn about additional industry specific Pentaho solutions here.

Helpful Resources

Choosing the best business analytics solution can be complicated. Check out our library of helpful content including case studies, whitepapers, webinars and demos. 

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