A managerial movement that is now happening and gaining in popularity is the application of business analytics for organisations, which helps them gain insights so they can make good decisions and decide the best actions to take. This topic was once the domain of quantitative analysts and statistical geeks developing models in their cubicles. Today applying analytical methods is on the verge of becoming mainstream.

Which line management function may be in the best position to endorse and drive the adoption of business analytics? Is it marketing, operations or sales? Might it be the finance and accounting function? They already have a propensity for quantitative analysis. It is in their DNA.

One way to draw my conclusion about this emerging movement is to listen to the chatter and debate about the topic. Articles in IT magazines and on websites about ‘Big Data’ and the need for analytics of all flavours, such as segmentation analysis, are increasingly prominent. Debate is always healthy. Some IT analysts view applying analytics as a fad or being way overvalued. Others, such as leading proponents of analytics like authors Tom Davenport of Babson College in Massachusetts and Jeanne Harris of Accenture, claim that an organisation’s achievement of competencies with analytics will provide a competitive edge.

Predictive analytics is one type of analytical method that is getting much attention because senior executives appear to be shifting away from a command-and-control ...

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