What is Descriptive Analytics?

Descriptive analytics is a type of data analytics that looks at past data to help companies understand what has happened to date. You might see, for example, an increase in sales following a promotion. Results are typically presented in reports, dashboards, bar charts and other visualizations that are easily understood. Descriptive analytics is focused only on what has happened in a business and, unlike other methods of analysis, it is not used to draw inferences or predictions from its findings. It is a foundational starting point used to inform or prepare data for further analysis down the line.

Businesses use descriptive analytics to assess, compare, spot anomalies and identify relative strengths and weaknesses. Every part of the business can use descriptive analytics to measure performance and ensure goals and targets are being met. And if they aren’t being met, descriptive analytics can identify areas that require improvement or change. Examples of descriptive analytics include:

  • KPIs
  • Summarizing past events such as sales and operations data or marketing campaigns
  • Social media usage and engagement data such as Instagram or Facebook likes
  • Reporting general trends
  • Collating survey results