Preface

In recent years, the term business analytics has been promoted by software vendors, service providers, technology developers and consulting firms. These promotion efforts have focused predominantly on technological capabilities and examples of the benefits derived from using such systems.

Despite the availability of large amounts of hard data and information such as scorecards and metrics, intuition is still the basis for many important, and sometimes critical, decisions by senior executives and managers. This book will help you replace gut-feel decision-making with decision based on hard data.

We ourselves realized that on many occasions, where 'business analytics' was explained or presented, it was implicitly assumed that the audience had prior understanding of what business analytics is all about. Moreover, different speakers and experts seem to have different notions of what `business analytics' includes, excludes and refers to. The conflation has become more problematic, now that many fields and organizations have an incentive to claim business analytics as their own. Business analytics relies heavily on data mining, which creates an added layer of confusion. What is business analytics? What is data mining? What is the framework that ties data mining within business analytics? There are some excellent books on business analytics as well as books on data mining intended for a business audience. However, there appears to be a gap when it comes to providing an integrated picture that has sufficient detail.
This situation motivated us to write a book that takes a step back and describes business analytics from a non-commercial, no-agenda standpoint. We do not assume that you know what the topic is about before you start reading. In particular, we make no assumptions about your level of knowledge or technical skill. Instead, we guide you through a journey into the world of business analytics, exploring its contents, capabilities, and applications. We try to explain and de-mystify the main concepts and terminologies, and give many examples of real-world applications. 

We wrote the book with a diverse audience in mind: students, managers, analysts, executives, consultants and whoever may need to interact with or alongside individuals or departments deploying business analytics solutions.