In the recent past, Business Analytics (BA) has gained more and more traction with the business community. This being so, there has also been a proportionate increase in the need for the right business analysis tools.
Unfortunately, at a time when the challenge of mining and analyzing big data calls for complex and technical solutions, most businesses are still in the dark when it comes to its myriad benefits. Besides, only a few are aware of the right tools they should employ in their data collection and analysis.
Now, there are a variety of powerful business analysis tools out there, both open source and commercial. But in this article I want to share with you a list of the top analytical tools that every business analysts should have and use.
But before that it is important that we define what business analysis is – at least for the un-informed!
What Is Business Analysis?
The online Business Dictionary defines business analysis as:
“Investigation into the operations of a business to expose the causes behind the results achieved, and the effects of those results on the business.”
Wikipedia.com on the hand defines it as:
“A research discipline of identifying business needs and determining solutions to business problems.”
From these definitions it is clear that business analysis is not a discipline that should be toyed with. This is why every business analyst should have the right business analysis tools that will help him/her effectively investigate the business situations, identify and evaluate options for improving the business systems and of course, ensure that information gathered is effectively utilized in meeting the needs of the business.
Having said that, here are my recommended business analysis tools for you.
Top 6 Business Analysis Tools Every Analyst Should Use
1. Microsoft Excel
Excel is on the top spot by no mistake; it’s perhaps the most famous and secretly most powerful business analytics suite out there. Almost every business office has access to Excel repacked as MS Office suite.
Regardless of how extensive or complicated your statistical analysis is, it is imminent that you’ll utilize Excel at some point along the process particularly for presentation and reporting of analytic results.
It’s also an excellent dashboarding tool. Excel can be immensely powerful in the hands of an experienced and knowledgeable person.
This is perhaps the poster child for business analytic tools. SAS, its vendor, claims to be the biggest independent in the business analysis industry. SAS design and distributes various software suites that are essential for business analysis.
One of their most valuable software widely utilized in business analysis has broad capabilities ranging from data mining, advanced analytics to data management.
3. SPSS Modeler
SPSS Modeler, premier IBM software, is an essential tool for data mining, a crucial step in business analytics. It is notable for its unique and comprehensive, intuitive GUI and its “point-and-click” modeling attributes.
4. Google Fusion Tables
These tables are much cooler and more powerful cousins to Google Spreadsheets. They are used particularly for dataset visualization, mapping, and extensive data analysis. These tables work seamlessly with other popular software and BA essentials tools like Excel, Google Maps, and SPSS, etc. Though not well known among offline users, it’s a business tool worth having.
Leading BA software developed by MathWorks, MATLAB is a powerful statistical computing tool that incorporates matrix manipulations, data analysis, function plotting, and implementation of algorithms and creation of UIs. Numerous add-on toolboxes distend MATLAB to individual faculties like finance, biostatistics, and statistics. Due to its exorbitant cost, there are myriad clones that are meant to suffice; these include Scilab and Octave.
This analytical and statistical tool is developed and packaged by StatSoft. It’s notable for top-notch runtimes in data analysis, data mining, data management and data visualization procedures. While its GUI is not the most user-friendly, it has a broad spectrum of analytic techniques that suffices its shortcomings.
As mentioned earlier, business analysis is an important aspect of running and growing a business. The above tools, used correctly, will greatly make analysis easier. However, they're only as worthy as the data presented to it and the analysis that you carry out. Effective business analysis therefore calls for proper training and practice. For this you can check out https://www.excelr.com/.
Over to you: Which business analysis tool is missing from this list? Share with us in your comments below.