Analytics is the application of computer technology, operational research, and statistics to solve problems in business and industry. Analytics is carried out within an information system: while, in the past, statistics and mathematics could be studied without computers and software, analytics has evolved from the application of computers to the analysis of data and this takes place within an information system or software environment. Mathematics underpins the algorithms used in analytics - the science of analytics is concerned with extracting useful properties of data using computable functions (see Church-Turing thesis), and typically will involve extracting properties from large data bases (see data mining). Analytics therefore bridges the disciplines of computer science, statistics, and mathematics.
A simple definition of analytics is "the science of analysis". A practical definition, however, would be that analytics is the process of obtaining an optimal or realistic decision based on existing data. Business managers may choose to make decisions based on past experiences or rules of thumb, or there might be other qualitative aspects to decision making; but unless there are data involved in the process, it would not be considered analytics.
Common applications of analytics include the study of business data using statistical analysis in order to discover and understand historical patterns with an eye to predicting and improving business performance in the future. Also, some people use the term to denote the use of mathematics in business. Others hold that the field of analytics includes the use of operations research, statistics and probability. However, it would be erroneous to limit the field of analytics to only statistics and mathematics.
Analytics closely resembles statistical analysis and data mining, but tends to be based on modeling involving extensive computation. Some fields within the area of analytics are enterprise decision management, marketing analytics, predictive science, strategy science, credit risk analysis and fraud analytics.