Data analytics are an important part of any business’ workflow and company practices, or at least they should be. Regardless of the industry you’re in—be it manufacturing dolls, running a commercial farm, or providing a delivery service—all vendors and market leaders need analytics to understand where a company has been and where it’s going. Especially as markets and supply chains become increasingly globalized and interconnected, trying to make any moves without relying on analytics’s insights is like sleepwalking. You may get from one point to the next, but you won’t know how you did it or how to replicate that move in the morning.

Most companies or vendors know by now that amassing large quantities of data is the way to go and that data preparation and analysis are invaluable tools for recognizing insights and trends. That being said, not everyone knows just how powerful data visualization can be when recognizing important trends, parsing the crucial details from distractions, and making better financial decisions faster. The truth is that visualized data makes for a much clearer picture, literally. And that picture is much more easily transmitted to key people throughout the company, important investors, and potential customers. Who prefers to look at an image than at a spreadsheet with lines upon lines of numbers?

For those interested in data visualization for business intelligence purposes, it’s good to know that some incredible software options can provide both descriptive and predictive analytics in real-time and vivid colors. In fact, according to the 2020 Gartner Data Science report, there are some awe-inspiring options out there that can help vendors relay information, get to the root causes of their company’s problems, and keep a finger on the pulse of their business every day. If this sounds like something you may find useful at your company, you first need to know the difference between predictive and descriptive analytics. Once that’s ironed out, make sure you work with software that can not only provide both but can synthesize the two in a useful way that maximizes your knowledge and streamlines everything about your business processes.

Descriptive Analytics

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Simply put, descriptive analytics gives technology users or business users a clear picture of where they’ve been. This form of analytics uses data mining and analysis of existing, already aggregated data to locate the information that’s actually useful to decision-makers. There is nothing in this process that directly advises about what to do in the future. However, the best future choices may be inferred by looking at the descriptions found in historical data and presented through descriptive analytics. Using this form of data analytics is extremely helpful but still leaves vendors and other business users taking a reactive approach. After all, you can’t be proactive when you’re looking at the past.

Predictive Analytics

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Predictive analytics looks into the future. Of course, no predictive analytics expert or data scientist can claim to predict the future with 100 percent accuracy. However, some assumptions and ideas can still be formulated by looking at trends and insights from within the accumulated data. Like descriptive analytics, predictive analytics also uses historical data. Still, by using statistics and advanced techniques

Data scientists can use historical data to make predictions that suggest what is likely to happen in a vendor’s or company’s future. Using predictive analytics to stay informed allows business users to take a proactive approach, head off pitfalls at the pass, and prepare for both the good times and the bad before they happen. Neither descriptive nor predictive analytics alone can suffice for a vendor or market leader looking to be a true visionary in their field. Therefore, make sure to find a business intelligence solution that allows you to take the best of both worlds and drive your company to success.