What is business analytics?

Business analytics is a set of automated data analysis practices, tools and services that help you understand both what is happening in your business and why, to improve decision-making and help you plan for the future. The term “business analytics” is often used in association with business intelligence (BI) and big data analytics.

With today’s exponential data growth and rapid change, it’s critical to rethink traditional data analytics and make faster, more confident business decisions.

Go beyond the what and get to the why and what’s next with business analytics solutions.

What are the benefits of business analytics solutions?

Make faster, more confident decisions


As data volumes increase, it’s nearly impossible to quickly and accurately process business data and spot hidden trends, patterns and business drivers. Modern planning analytics solutions can help customers experience 80% faster processing time.

Cut costs and increase velocity

integrated approach

Combine data across all sources to put insights into action faster, and automate your planning and analytics processes to save time and labor. Customers using planning analytics solutions have saved more than USD 1 million on streamlining their budgeting process.

Anticipate and respond to the unexpected

Anticipate unexpected

Predictive analytics let you forecast results and optimize outcomes. Test scenarios before implementing plans to see the potential impact of your decisions. Business analytics solutions give you the agility to alter plans and respond to changes with ease.

Business analytics lifecycle

The business analytics lifecycle helps organizations use data to identify what happened, why it happened and what to do next

Planning analytics

It starts with a plan. Whether it’s the corporate plan, financial plan, or one of many departmental plans, planning analytics provides insight into historical data to inform current plans and optimize for the future. Many businesses rely on excel spreadsheets for planning, but this process is time consuming, complex and error prone. Modern solutions make it easy to create and improve business plans collaboratively by responding quickly to actual business performance.

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Descriptive analytics

Self-service business intelligence tools make it possible for everyone, from individual contributor to executive, to get a snapshot of business performance. However, it's critical to know that you can trust your data visualization tools and avoid acting on false insights. As the size of data sets increases, experienced analysts need automated tools to execute SQL queries, clean and combine multiple data sets. Data visualization is used to share trends and track KPIs.

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Diagnostic analytics

Exploratory data analysis techniques make it easy to find relationships hiding in your data and identify real business drivers. Uncover what happened, and then determine exactly why it happened. AI-infused business intelligence solutions allow business users, business analysts and data analysts to easily apply data science algorithms, find unbiased insights at speed, and improve business decisions.

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IBM Cognos Analytics IBM Arrow Forward

Predictive analytics

Self-service analytics tools have taken advantage of AI and machine learning to help business users and business analysts, not just data scientists, can predict what will happen next by analyzing historical data and identifying patterns. Statistical analysis, python programming and data mining are just some of the advanced business analytics techniques used to predict outcomes.

Prescriptive analytics

Prescriptive analytics helps you manage and allocate resources more efficiently and effectively by harnessing the power of optimization engines to sift through millions of possible alternatives and help arrive at the best decision. As you complete the business analytics lifecycle multiple times, you’ll begin to achieve new innovation driven by data.

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IBM Decision Optimization IBM Arrow Forward

Why IBM for business analytics?

Accelerate your analysis with AI

AI Brain

Automated Model Creation, Natural Language Processing, and Cognitive Help let you use data to inform faster and more confident decisions.

Our products are better together

Better together

Our analytics products are designed to work together as a broader set of business analytics solutions.

Deploy where and when you need it


Our products are available on premises, in the cloud, on IBM Cloud Pak® for Data or as a hybrid option.

IBM Planning Analytics

Automate and accelerate planning, budgeting and forecasting processes with IBM Planning Analytics.

IBM Cognos Analytics

Unearth hidden insights with a self-service BI solution driven by AI — IBM Cognos® Analytics.