Data analytics (DA) is the process of examining data sets in order to draw conclusions about the information they contain, increasingly with the aid of specialized systems and software. Data analytics technologies and techniques are widely used in commercial industries to enable organizations to make more-informed business decisions and by scientists and researchers to verify or disprove scientific models, theories and hypotheses.
Data analytics initiatives can help businesses increase revenues, improve operational efficiency, optimize marketing campaigns and customer service efforts, respond more quickly to emerging market trends and gain a competitive edge over rivals -- all with the ultimate goal of boosting business performance. Depending on the particular application, the data that's analyzed can consist of either historical records or new information that has been processed for real-time analytics uses. In addition, it can come from a mix of internal systems and external data sources.
Data analytics can also be separated into quantitative data analysis and qualitative data analysis. The former involves analysis of numerical data with quantifiable variables that can be compared or measured statistically. The qualitative approach is more interpretive -- it focuses on understanding the content of non-numerical data like text, images, audio and video, including common phrases, themes and points of view.