In the rapidly evolving world of business and interconnected global landscape, utilization of tremendous amount of data with due support of available technology for boosting businesses is showing a growing trend, leading to sweeping changes in ways of doing and managing business.
Influenced by the forces of globalization, explosion of new technologies and cutting-edge tools of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), businesses are moving forward generating massive amount of data, making them to stand at the crossroads of innovation and competition.
Data-being at the core of any industry since it fuels innovation-has established itself as a prerequisite for developing effective decisions and insightful business strategies and hence, its handling and protection are critical issues.
To remain well-positioned and create competitive advantages, corporate sector is leaning towards Business Analytics Tools utilizing time series data to give businesses the right direction for their future.
Data skills, as such, have emerged as indispensable for revealing the true potential of any business entity. The capability to analyze and transform raw data into applied insights and strategic decision-making is a defining factor in attaining mission of an organization.
Modern technology emphasizes upon corporate sector to empower employees with data analytical skills to make informed decisions, drive innovation and gain a competitive edge. In this backdrop, it is relevant to mention that technologies have been used as a tool to improve business efficacy since Industrial Revolution.
Automation has played a considerable role in managing and performing multiple tasks for large enterprises. Dr Frederick Winslow Taylor, father/pioneer of ‘Scientific Management Studies’ and author of ‘The Principals of Scientific Management’ (1909), is reported to be the first who introduced the formalized system of Business Analytics in late 19th Century while analyzing production and productivity increasing techniques.
Later, when Time Studies/Motion Studies/Fatigue Studies began to be used in production processes in 1950s and when computers were used for automatic data processing in the 1960s, Analytics was used (by applying mathematical/statistical models) to provide solutions to problems identified in organizations.
However, the unprecedented upsurge in Internet and Information Technology further boosted the performance of businesses. To keep interests of organizations at utmost high level, new technological solutions have been found effective than ever before.
Business Analytics is one of the significant causes that have contributed immensely to guiding businesses towards productivity and profitability. It is an emerging field of study that has attracted the attention of academia around the globe.
Its main purpose is to improve the accuracy and efficiency of decision-making. Business Analytics, simply put, is about leveraging value from data. Analytics applied to Business Data focuses on the business implications of data and the decisions/actions that should be taken as a result.
It is the process of collecting, organizing, analyzing, and interpreting data using quantitative/statistical methods and technology, to make informed business decisions and formulate strategies. Business Analytics is a composite field of Computer Science and Business (Data) Studies that uses Mathematics, Statistics/Quantitative techniques and ML to find meaningful patterns in data.
This analytical discipline has evolved from just displaying the facts and figures into more collaborative business intelligence that predicts outcomes and assists in future decision making. It engages in all phases of data analysis, making forecasts and building models to enable better management decisions.
It provides actionable insights into customer behaviour/preferences along with comprehensive market analysis/trends, thereby providing a competitive advantage to organisations. It provides innovative solutions that help businesses comply with the demands of investors and export markets by streamlining procedures. To cite an instance, FinTech (Financial Technology) provides consumers and businesses with better, faster and quality financial services and products.
Business Analytics, same way, can be applied to various other areas of business like Sales and Customer Services, Marketing, Human Resource Management and Production Operations. By analyzing data from these functional areas, organizations can identify trends, patterns and correlations that can help them make informed decisions, optimize their business processes, enhance performance, leverage competitive advantages and create values.
Due to all these reasons, Business Data Analytics is steadily gaining currency across globe. Algorithms powered through enormous data have been determining how benefits could be reaped by government, business, civil society to education, healthcare and financial services alike. It may be indicated here that under Joseph Schumpeter's Creative Destruction Theory, new jobs that do not exist yet will replace the ones that will be made obsolete. In this context, continuous learning, unlearning, relearning, upskilling and reskilling will be essential for all, blue-collar as well as white-collar workers.
For most business professionals, the ability to interpret and present data from multiple sources is not common knowledge. There is a scarcity of digital talent/qualified professionals who can harness data insights and make informed business decisions.
To realize dividends, corporate sector needs to impart skills like developing analytical skills, critical thinking, problem solving, making decisions, creativity, time management, communication, visualization and adaptability.
At the heart of all this discussion lie the five pillars of data analytics, viz: 1) Descriptive Analytics describes what has already happened (using existing business intelligence tools); 2) Diagnostic Analytics reveals why it happened; 3) Predictive Analytics forecasts future trends and outcomes (using statistical models); 4) Prescriptive Analytics recommends solutions/best course of action for businesses to drive their growth/achieve desired outcomes; and 5) Cognitive Analytics combines together a number of intelligent technologies using AI/ML algorithms and providing information for the best decision instead of actually making it.
The convergence of data analytics and ML has ignited a surge in demand for skilled professionals, reshaping the employment landscape. Business Data Analytics, thus, has emerged as one of the important markets today. It has become a vital constituent of businesses across industries.
Notably, Education is considered a fundamental around which careers are born and built. Recent advances in technological innovations such as AI, ML, Data Science, Business Modeling/Analytics, etc. have brought some major changes in all sectors of economy including knowledge industry. It is changing the way knowledge is gained, processed and utilized for a better world; presenting vast opportunities to every individual to grow and prosper.
Education based on technology (EduTech) has emerged as a potent catalyst for holistic development, empowering learners and preparing them for a future has that requires adaptation and innovation. It makes use of algorithms and data analytics to identify learners’ skills, weaknesses and preferences.
Hence, a suitable technological intervention to ensure access and making use of the most modern technologies for promoting teaching-learning becomes imperative. In this regard, the National Education Policy NEP-2020 has re-engineered the entire education ecosystem. It highlights the important role of higher education institutions (HEIs) in enriching the society, creating and nurturing the best talents and stresses upon the necessary changes in sync with the Policy Document.
It urges institutions to prepare students for the real world by nurturing scientific temper, creativity and innovation inspiring them to participate in research and creative activities. It also recognizes the importance of leveraging the advantages of technology while acknowledging its potential risks and dangers.
NEP-2020 states that while education will play a critical role in transforming the entire nation into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy, technology in itself will play an important role in the upgradation of educational processes and outcomes.
The term Technology is used seventy seven (77) times in the Policy Document, which in itself speaks volumes of its significance in pedagogy and curriculum management. The thrust of technological interventions would be for the purposes of improving teaching-learning process. Thus, the acceleration in technology used is transforming the whole education ecosystem, focusing on future skills would ensure a balance between basic knowledge and applied skills (philosophy and practice).
Pertinently, incorporating technology into the classroom leads to blended learning. With blended learning, institutions can optimize their teaching-learning/training programs by leveraging the benefits of both traditional and digital education, creating dynamic and effective learning experiences for learners.
The NEP-2020 puts a special emphasis on active involvement of learners in and outside classrooms helping knowledge, skills, innovation and awareness to blossom. It emphasizes that education ecosystem should keep pace with the evolving and fast changing world of digitization and emerging technologies.
Hence, to harness the power of Data and Analysis in line with NEP-2020, the education institutions can play a vital role in imparting education to our future generation in Business Data Analytics and make a positive impact on the lives of learners by creating a more inclusive and effective learning environment.
Reportedly, in more recent times, a few HEIs in country have taken a lead, gained fame and are referred to as pioneers and role models for promoting and launching the courses in Business Analytics. For instance, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata and Commerce Department of Delhi University have recently launched a Masters’ Program specifically targeting Business Analytics with an emphasis on AI and ML, sparking an immense interest amongst the learners.
These programs have been designed to address the evolving demands of industry/businesses, ensuring that learners are equipped with relevant and up-to-date knowledge and expertise, learning innovation and real-world skills. The Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad lately also designed a 12-week Applied Business Analytics Executive Education Programme for working professionals while IIM, Lucknow started a 9-month Executive Program in Data Science.
As the path to prosperity of the society passes through education institutions and early adopters of the new technology often reap rewards, the HEIs across J&K can also follow the suite with advantage by devising programs in Business Analytics.
These institutions could provide a cutting-edge curriculum with an emphasis on the tools and techniques used for handling, managing, analyzing and interpreting massive business data to be designed and developed with the help of teaching departments of Commerce/Management, Economics/Econometrics, Mathematics, Information Technology and Statistics/Quantitive Techniques and Physics of respective institutions.
What is even more remarkable about the Business Analytics is that on the completion of the program, the expertise, innovation and dedication of the professionals who are placed in job market play a significant role in providing critical, technological and business operations support for all lines of business and functions of the organization and to varied customers and clientele with due delight.
Therefore, with growing demand for advanced technology and financial services, strengthening academic processes in different HEIs is a natural progression to leverage the immense potential of the talent market which in turn would continue delivering cutting-edge solutions to clients worldwide.
In sum, Business Analytics is all about systematic analysis of data to reach valid conclusions/decision. It is a developing field of expertise that is gaining ground across corporate sector.
There is a paucity of talent in the field of Business Analytics and education institutions can significantly provide learners with the requisite tools/know-how they need to adapt to changing world business scenario using latest technology and underscoring practical application, problem-solving and critical thinking.
It is opportune time that HEIs in J&K and elsewhere lay direct focus on the innovation and upgradation of technology education, incorporating and embracing modern technological breakthroughs like AI/ML so as to catch up with the changing world.
As the Business Data Science is a dynamic field that requires continuous learning and adaptation to stay updated with the latest tools, techniques and trends, in turn, would surely help businesses make fast, data-driven decisions, grow revenue, establish new business models, provide improved customer care and experiences, empower employees, gain an advantage over competitors and the like.
Corporate sector without adhering to Business Analytics Techniques are left to make decisions and do business based on gut feeling and experience alone. Therefore, through systemic collection and analysis of data, firms/companies/businesses can derive valuable insights into business operations, pinpoint areas requiring attention and craft well-informed strategies for improving the hiring process, better communication with customers and partners and knowing their preferences, making management of enterprises more systematic, structured, successful and understanding the emerging market trends.
The writers are former Commerce Teachers and Life Members of Indian Commerce Association.