I classify analytics into four kinds:
- Descriptive — Reporting “What” Happened
- Diagnostic — “Why” is Happened
- Predictive — What’s going to happen next?
- Prescriptive — How can I use all these things to take business decisions/actions.
With that overview, let’s look at Descriptive analysis a little bit more. This is usually the first step for any organization to start getting value out of all their data. They should be able to answer questions like: What were my sales last quarter? How about same quarter last year? Then compare them to see if they made progress. They can also report on sales (Actual vs goals) for last n months and see if they are trending in the right direction. Things like this! Once you have a good process and platform to get this right then the organization is ready to advance to next step which is diagnostic and this is where you start analyzing the key drivers and underlying reasons to figure “why” it’s happening. But you need start at Descriptive!
Hope that helps!