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Learn Business Analytics

A Comprehensive Guide to Start Learning Business Analytics

Business analytics is a subset of business intelligence. This management solution relies on methodologies like statistical analysis, data mining, and predictive analytics to analyze data so that important trends and patterns can be spotted. These data insights are then communicated to decision-makers within an organization so they can use this information to make better data-driven business decisions.

Business analytics involves using data to create mathematical and statistical models that are of value to an organization. The insights provided by data analysis can spot trends as well as predict business outcomes. This information plays an important role in an organization’s decision-making process. If you’ve always wanted to learn business analytics but aren’t sure how to get started, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll learn more about the various ways to learn business analytics, free resources to take advantage of, and the types of careers that commonly use business analytics.

What is Business Analytics?

Business Analytics is a group of technologies and disciplines, such as quantitative methods, statistical models, and data analysis, which are used to solve business problems. It relies on iteratively and methodologically exploring an organization’s data using statistical analysis techniques to make better, data-driven decisions. This involves a practical application of statistical analysis geared toward uncovering actionable recommendations.

Many companies view their data as a business asset and continue to explore ways to use it for a competitive advantage. To be successful with business analytics, an organization must have good quality data, as well as Business Analysts who not only understands the business but also the technologies needed to transform its data into insights. Business Analysts seek to draw concrete conclusions about a company by finding answers to questions such as why certain events happened, what is expected to occur in the future, and what actions can be done in the present.

Most business analytics tasks are descriptive, predictive, or prescriptive. Descriptive analytics involves analyzing historical data to discover how an organization could respond to specific variables. Predictive analytics examines historical data to predict the likelihood of specific future outcomes. Prescriptive analytics is a combination of descriptive and predictive analyses; it involves formulating a process with which users can anticipate what is expected to happen, when it will occur, and why it will transpire. Business Analysts rely on tools and skills such as data mining, association and sequence identification, text mining, data aggregation, forecasting, optimization, and data visualization to gather and present these data-driven insights.

Read more about what business analytics is and why you should learn it.

What Can You Do with Business Analytics?

Business analytics is one of the most versatile skill sets you can bring to the professional arena. All businesses, from small startups to multinational companies, seek those with a background in business analytics who can work with data to solve complicated problems, devise useful business strategies, and clearly communicate with stakeholders. Most Business Analysts have a background working with technology and programming languages like C++ and Java, as well as various databases and testing methods. These individuals typically possess technical and business skills, making them high-demand among recruiters and employers. 

Business Analysts are typically good problem solvers. They can analyze problems and apply critical thinking to propose innovative solutions that consider variables such as market trends. These individuals also tend to have an analytical mindset, which allows them to apply statistical models to analyze large datasets. Their analytic skills help Business Analysts perform tasks like understanding consumer buying decisions and behaviors and using this information to formulate a marketing strategy.

Business Analysts are usually expert communicators. They can clearly communicate their data findings and present these insights to different teams on both the business and technical sides. This often requires adapting their communication style to best reach different audiences. These individuals also possess time-management skills to balance multiple project deadlines and perform under pressure.

Careers that Use Business Analytics

If you’re considering pursuing a career in business analytics, the good news is that the skills needed to do so have applications in various industries and professions. Various business analytics careers are currently available for those at different points in their career. Senior Data Analysts are involved with collecting and sorting data, then communicating insights to business partners. Project Managers who specialize in data analysis are involved with overseeing a project from start to finish. This process involves ensuring all team members are progressing at a pace to meet deadlines and that deliverables will be completed as expected. Principle Data Analysts also work with business analytics skills, such as designing intricate data systems, gathering information about their organization’s business needs, and working with their organization to reach its goals.

Another career path for those with a business analytics background is Operations Research Analyst. These professionals work with complex analytical and mathematical methods to solve organizational issues. Computer Systems Analysts also apply business analytics skills, though they do so in the context of computer systems. These individuals review an organization’s computer system to spot areas where its efficiency and effectiveness can be improved. These individuals can expect a yearly salary of $99,000. Analytics Managers are the ones who set the standard for their teams’ data collection strategies. They also monitor risk potential, performance metrics, and other components of data collection. Analytics Managers also apply statistical analysis to datasets and create reports designed to clearly communicate their data findings.

Why Learn Business Analytics?

A background in business analytics is currently one of the most in-demand skills employers seek in candidates. Because the digital world continues to evolve and grow, more professional opportunities are available for those with business analytics training to make sense of it all. Each engagement and customer transaction that occurs in cyberspace leaves behind a trail of information that can be profitable for those with a background in analytics. 

Virtual transactions and engagement records consist of data streams of objective facts about customers. These offer insights into customer activities, purchases, and interests. Companies that understand the value of this data rely on Business Analysts to find and analyze this information, as well as to propose ways the organization can profit from this knowledge. In addition to the valuable information it provides about customer patterns, business analysis can also offer insights into whether a business may be in a position to expand, as well as how effective its internal procedures are for product launches.

Even though business analytics is a relatively new field, the process of using mathematics to analyze measurements to make business improvements has been used since at least the nineteenth century, when Henry Ford used it to monitor the time employees needed to build each component of his cars. Currently, business analytics is used by many in the tech sector. As more data becomes available to businesses every day, this field is expected to continue its rapid growth.

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How to Learn Business Analytics

A variety of learning options are available in both the in-person and online formats for those interested in studying business analytics. In-person Business Analytics classes provide learners with access to a computer lab with the most up-to-date software and allow them to connect with others in their field. These courses are taught by expert instructors who bring real-world experience to their lessons. Participants in in-person business analytics classes can ask questions as they arise and receive immediate feedback on their work in this engaging, interactive learning environment.

You can search for in-person business analytics classes close to home to locate learning options nearby.

Live online business analytics courses are also offered by Noble Desktop and other educational providers. Just like in-person study, these courses are taught in real-time, which means you can ask questions and receive immediate guidance. Because you can complete all coursework remotely, there’s no need to travel to and from campus for regularly scheduled class meetings or pay to park. Although both in-person and live online business analytics classes may require taking off work to attend regularly scheduled meetings, they provide an engaging, hands-on way to learn more about working with big data.

If you’re new to business analytics and aren’t ready to dive into a full course, self-paced business analytics classes are a great starting point. These courses provide pre-recorded content, which means they can be watched and rewatched as often as you want, as well as paused and rewound to facilitate note-taking. They can be watched at any time of the day, any day of the week, from any location, which makes them a good beginning point in business analytics study for those who have busy work schedules and are trying to balance their studies with other commitments. Since Business Analysts often work with Microsoft Excel for data-related tasks, you may want to explore Noble Desktop’s free Excel class Top 10 Beginner Tricks You Need to Know. This hour-long video provides content on fundamental Excel tasks, such as working with charts, autofill, screenshots, pasting, and data validation. Noble also offers free learning resources on Excel and data analytics

Read the full guide on how to learn business analytics.

Free Introductory Business Analytics Course Online 

Perhaps you want to study business analytics but don’t feel ready to dive into a full course. If this sounds like you, and you’re looking for an overview of business analytics, the good news is you can get started learning for free online with Noble Desktop’s Intro to SQL. This hour-long course is designed for those who are new to working with structured query language and want to learn how to use this programming language to search for data stored in databases. This video provides an overview of what SQL is, why we use databases, and why SQL remains a popular language across industries. A live demo is also included that illustrates how to work with a database and code SQL queries.

Other educational providers also offer free online beginner-friendly business analytics courses: The University of Michigan offers Introduction to Data Analytics for Managers, which is available via edX. Participants in this introductory-level, six-week course work with hands-on exercises, case studies, and lectures for an overview of how data analytics can be applied to business. Instruction is also provided on how to use the graphical development environment instead of complex coding, as well as how to perform data science tasks and interpret the data findings. For those who want to learn more about working with customer data, Wharton University’s Customer Analytics is available via Coursera. Participants in this free five-week class have access to a range of readings and quizzes, as well as 34 videos that provide instruction on working with predictive, descriptive, and prescriptive analytics in the real world with enterprises like Amazon and Google.

LinkedIn Learning’s Become a Business Analytics Expert is just one of more than 16,000 courses in the LinkedIn library that’s available for free for those who have a premium LinkedIn account. Over the course of this 10.5-hour introductory-level course, participants complete 10 modules that provide an overview of the concepts, techniques, and tools necessary to become a Business Analyst. All students receive instruction on topics like meta-analysis, logistic regression and data reduction with Excel and R, and forecasting.

Read more about free business analytics videos and online tutorials.

Level of Difficulty, Prerequisites, & Cost 

If you’re new to business analytics, you may wonder how difficult it will be to become a skilled Business Analyst. Technically speaking, business analytics isn’t considered an especially difficult field. Nearly anyone with a math background can train to become a Business Analyst. However, this field draws on more than just technical skills. Most successful Business Analysts also have a background in logic, business strategy, teamwork, and communication. In addition, many Business Analysts elect to complete postgraduate study, such as a master’s degree or a certificate in business analytics. This requires a solid understanding of fields like engineering, statistics, and science. The speed at which you learn business analytics skills will likely depend on your background working with data and data tools. The more familiar you are with statistical concepts and logic, the easier you may find it to learn business analytics.

Learning business analytics is an exciting process that draws from various tools, software, and applications. Business Analysts rely on these tools for tasks like creating decision models, tracking requirements, and managing projects. The following is a breakdown of some of the most commonly used tools for business analytics, as well as the cost associated with using them:

  • Microsoft Officeprovides Business Analysts with several helpful applications and tools they will regularly need, such as Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint. Excel, in particular, is an essential tool for management tracking and is commonly used by mid-sized operations. Subscriptions to Office are available for businesses starting at $6/user/month for Business Basic. Microsoft 365 Apps for Business costs $8.25/user/month. Business Standard is offered for $12.50/user/month. Business Premium can be purchased for $22/user/month. In addition, a free Microsoft 365 trial is also available for those who want to get a feel for working with this suite before committing to purchase. 
  • Tableauis the most widely used business intelligence platform currently available. This visual analytics platform was created to help people manage and explore data and to extract and share the insights they uncover. This powerful end-to-end analytics platform is available for different price points. Tableau Creator is offered for $70/user/month, Tableau Explorer costs $42/user/month, Tableau Viewer is $15/user/month, and Tableau Public is free to download. In addition, a free Tableau trial is also available for those who want to explore this product before purchasing it.
  • SQL, or structured query language, is a domain-specific programming language used to maintain data from relational database management systems. It is available for free for Testers and Developers who intend to use it only for non-production purposes. Microsoft also offers a free trial of SQL Server 2022 public preview

Read about how difficult it is to learn business analytics.

How Does Learning Business Analytics Compare to Other Fields?

If you’re interested in learning business analytics, you may wonder how difficult it is compared to other fields. One field that overlaps with business analytics is data analytics. Both these fields require handling and manipulating data, then uncovering insights into that data that can be used to improve the performance of an organization. 

Since both of these fields rely on similar tools, such as Microsoft Excel, Tableau, and SQL, the learning process and costs associated with learning are similar for both disciplines. Excel is currently available for $6.99/user/month when purchased as part of a Microsoft 365 subscription. Tableau Public is available for free, and SQL is also offered for free for those who intend to use it in non-production environments.

Unlike data analytics, business analytics is involved with larger implications of data for an organization, as well as the action that should be taken based on these implications. This field draws from a combination of tools, skills, and applications that an organization uses to measure and improve how effective its core business functions are. On the other hand, data analytics requires searching through large datasets to find trends and patterns, as well as to provide conclusions about hypotheses to provide insights to facilitate decision-making. This field incorporates a range of approaches and techniques, such as data cleaning and visualization. While both Data Analysts and Business Analysts are involved with organizational decision-making, Data Analysts generally work more with the data itself, whereas Business Analysts work more to address specific business needs and provide solutions.

If you want to learn more about data analytics, Noble Desktop’s Data Analytics Learn Hub provides a comprehensive overview of this field. In addition, this resource also contains articles on pertinent data analytics topics, such as working with colors in Tableau, using table calculations in Tableau, and installing Tableau Public. Noble also currently offerers several in-person and live online data analytics courses, such as Data Analytics Technologies Bootcamp and Data Analytics Certificate. 

How to Decide the Best Way to Learn Business Analytics

Deciding which business analytics format is best for you will likely depend on several factors, such as what you intend to use it for. Free introductory-level courses are a great option for those new to business analytics and want an overview of this field. These classes contain pre-recorded content, such as videos and tutorials, which can be accessed anytime and from any location with an internet connection. Since self-paced content is offered for free, it doesn’t require a financial commitment, making these classes a low-stakes way to learn business analytics. However, since no instructor is available to field questions and provide guidance on complex analytics concepts, asynchronous business analytics courses are most suited for beginner-level study rather than mastering more complicated skills.

If you’re looking to have a strong working knowledge of business analytics to grow within your current career or to plug a skill gap, a business analytics bootcamp is an excellent option. Noble’s Data Analytics Technologies Bootcamp is available both in-person and live online and provides instruction with common data tools like Excel, Tableau, and SQL. Participants in this small class prepares students to analyze and manipulate data to find insights that can be used to drive business decisions. All students have access to an expert instructor in real-time, who’s there to provide guidance and support. In addition, participants can retake this bootcamp for up to one year to revisit course material. 

For those who want to study business analytics to begin a new career or pivot to an entirely different industry, a Business Analysts Certificate can provide the necessary training. Participants in this rigorous program receive expert instruction on topics like analyzing and visualizing data, as well as presenting data findings, using PowerPoint, Tableau, SQL, and Excel. Learners can choose to study in-person in New York City or to complete certificate work remotely, from their home or office. Although certificate study may require taking off of work to meet at regularly scheduled days and times for class, it provides hands-on, real-world training that can help you advance as a Business Analyst.

Learn Business Analytics with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

If you want to study business analytics, Noble Desktop offers several excellent classes to prepare you to work as a Business Analyst. Noble’s Business Analyst Certificate is available in both the in-person and live online format. Participants in this hands-on course learn how to work with tools such as Tableau, SQL, PowerPoint, and Excel to analyze and visualize data. All participants receive live, project-based instruction from industry experts and can retake the course for up to one year to revisit the material.

For those who want to learn more about working with big data, Noble also has an in-person and live online Data Analytics Certificate. All participants receive one-on-one mentoring with tuition. This course is available in the full-time format that spans six weeks, as well as the part-time format of 24 weeks of evening classes. This project-based course covers core data analytics concepts and skills like collecting, wrangling, analyzing, and visualizing data. In addition, participants prepare for a career in business analytics or data analytics by reviewing case studies that incorporate both predictive and prescriptive analytics.

Those interested in comparing learning options can also browse Noble’s in-person and live online data analytics and data science classes to find the perfect class.

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