Analytics - branch of science providing information after a systematic analysis of data or statistics
Business Analytics - is a combination of tools, techniques, systems, processes to generate insights from the past business performance and drive the future course of action. Business Analytics can broadly be categorized into the following
Descriptive Analytics (Insight into Past) - preliminary stage of data processing that creates summary of historical data to yield useful information. It uses data aggregation, data mining and descriptive statistics to organize, summarize and present data in a convenient and informative way with aim of understanding what has happened. E.g. Measure of Central Tendency (Mean, Median, Mode), Measure of Dispersion (Range, Variance, Standard Deviation etc.).
Predictive Analytics (Understanding the Future) - it uses historical data available within organizations to identify patterns and apply statistical models to optimize the business methods. It uses inferential statistics (e.g. Hypothesis testing, correlation and regression) techniques for prediction on what could happen basis the data and some assumptions. These predictions may not be accurate all the time, however, combined with business acumen, it provides a fairly good idea on the outcome.
Prescriptive Analytics (Choose the Best Option) - it helps identify the best solution for a given problem. This field is relatively new when compared to descriptive and predictive analytics. It allows users to “prescribe” a no. of possible actions and guides them towards an optimized solution. It uses a combination of techniques and tools like business rules, algorithm, machine learning and computational modelling procedures which are applied against input from various sources like transactional, historical data, real time data feeds and big data.
An application oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Anita Upadhyay on 23rd October 2017.