Business analytics is the process of transforming data into action for the purpose of generating insights to drive decisions, actions and revenue. Davenport and Harris define analytics as “the extensive use of data, statistical and quantitative analysis, explanatory, and predictive models, and fact-based management to drive decisions and actions.” A 2011 study by the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that by 2018 the United States will face a shortage of more than 1.5 million managers, analysts, and other workers who are well-versed in the principles and use of analytics.

Though related, the field of Business Analytics is distinct from that of either Business Intelligence or Big Data.  Randy Barlett suggest that business analytics refers to the skills, technologies, practices for the systematic investigation of past business performance to gain insight and drive business planning.   In contrast, business intelligence  focuses on using a coherent set of metrics to measure past performance and guide business planning based on data and statistical methods. The study of Big Data is based on the 3V’s - : the “high volume, high velocity, and/or high variety (of) information assets that require new forms of processing to enable enhanced decision making, insight discovery and process optimization”.

This portal outlines a set of foundation courses in business analytics a mid-tier management school based on a number of hypotheses. Rather than offering a specialized track in analytics, the proposal is based on the premise that all business students need a basic understanding of data and analytics to explore and improve business performance.   In a business school, this training needs not only to address the data, but the processes in which data is produced, consumed, and interpreted. Finally, and most importantly, the foundation courses around business analytics should address how data is transformed into action in the practice of marketing, production, logistics, human resource management and management.