After completing this module, you will be able to:

1. Define Business Analytics.
2. Explain the correlation between business analytics and decision sciences.

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The tasks below will be automatically checked off once you complete watching the video and taking the quiz.


“Data should be at the heart of strategic decision making in business.”
Bernard Marr, Forbes, 2016

The foundation of any successful organization is being able to give consumers what they want. Guessing isn’t enough to truly figure out what those wants are. That’s why using business analytics (BA) is so crucial in determining members’ wants and needs.

The landscape of competition has been changing. It used to be that all we needed was an interesting idea, committed teams and a strong business sense. Today, the competition is more global, so organizations need to understand past performance to prepare for the future.

What is business analytics?

Business analytics is the process of collecting, sorting, processing and studying business data to transform into business knowledge for decision making. The goal of business analytics is to determine which sets of data are useful and how they can be used to solve problems and increase efficiency, productivity and revenue. The data is also used to clarify past events, create predictions for future events and to recommend steps that can drive members toward a desired goal.

Business analytics provides:

  • Clarity.
    Knowing where an organization stands in the industry to develop effective strategies to position itself better in the future.
  • Competitiveness.
    If an organization does not analyze the huge amounts of data it is exposed to, it might drown in information and stay behind the competition.
  • Timeliness.
    Clear insight into each aspect of the organization affords fast decision-making to render positive results.


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We previously mentioned the changing landscape of competition. “Amazoning of Expectations” is one explanation of the changing landscape.

The Challenge: Amazoning of Expectations

Consumer expectations have changed due to their experiences with Amazon. Because Amazon’s consumers are also our members, they expect their experience with our associations to be similar, but it simply won’t be, because associations don’t have the same funds to create the experiences Amazon can. Ordering from Amazon is easy, fast and consistent; returns are easy, customers can find anything, and they have access to their purchase history. Amazon knows their customers deeply and are able to suggest things specific to them. Amazon is able to design experiences based on the consumer data they already have.

According to Gartner analyst Melissa Davis, “Customer-centric, contextualized experiences based on the customer journey are becoming the competitive differentiator for the future of customer experience, requiring organizations to leverage new types of analysis and data sources.”

Evaluate Your Association’s Relationship with Data

How does your association currently interact with data? Choose an answer to the following question: At your last strategic/longer-term planning discussion, what role did business intelligence (BI) and data play?

  1. Data not needed; we already know our members and know what they want
  2. I’m pretty sure someone mentioned business intelligence at some point
  3. We did refer to some past trends here and there, mostly anecdotally
  4. BI was prepared beforehand and brought to the table to support specific decision making

No matter where you land, start evaluating your association’s relationship with data by performing a simple data audit. Oftentimes, groups are sitting on accumulated data. These stockpiles include stories of change, project reports, grantee reports, interviews and findings from focus groups. All of this data can be mined for unique insights and outcomes. Here’s how to perform a simple data audit:


Click each tab for more information.

As part of the data audit, many groups realize they are collecting a lot of data but are not actually using it. Why don't people use their data optimally? Common reasons include lack of time, shifting internal priorities, low staff capacity or lack of in-house expertise to manage and process all of the data.

Using business analytics helps put action behind available data.

Additional Tools

Download your How to Complete a Simple Data Audit Worksheet to help you discover your own organization’s relationship with data! Save and download or print.


See if you understand the concepts by completing the quiz. Click Introduction to BA Quiz to begin.

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