Business analytics refers to the ways in which enterprises such as businesses, non-profits, and governments can use data to gain insights and make better decisions. Business analytics is applied in operations, marketing, finance, and strategic planning among other functions. The ability to use data effectively to drive rapid, precise and profitable decisions has been a critical strategic advantage for companies as diverse as WalMart, Google, Capital One, and Disney. For example, Capital One uses sophisticated analytic capabilities to match credit card offerings to customers more accurately than their competition. WalMart uses analytics to monitor and update its inventory in a way that allows it to serve its customers at an exceptionally low cost. In addition, many current and recent startups such as Palantir and Splunk are based on the application of analytics to large data bases. With the increasing availability of broad and deep sources of information — so-called “Big Data” — business analytics are becoming an even more critical capability for enterprises of all types and all sizes. In this course, you will learn to identify, evaluate, and capture business analytic opportunities that create value. Toward this end, you will learn basic analytic methods and analyze case studies on organizations that successfully deployed these techniques. In the first part of the course, we focus on how to use data to develop insights and predictive capabilities using machine learning, data mining and forecasting techniques. In the second part, we focus on the use of optimization to support decision-making in the presence of a large number of alternatives and business constraints. Finally, throughout the course, we explore the challenges that can arise in implementing analytical approaches within an organization. The course emphasizes that business analytics is not a theoretical discipline: these techniques are only interesting and important to the extent that they can be used to provide real insights and improve the speed, reliability, and quality of decisions. The concepts learned in this class should help you identify opportunities in which business analytics can be used to improve performance and support important decisions. It should make you alert to the ways that analytics can be used — and misused — within an organization.
Upon completing this session, the student should be able to: