Now more than ever, business managers are challenged to give up their old ways of decision making. They need to rely less on managing by the seat of their pants, going with a "gut feel," utilizing only anecdotal evidence and rationalizing by saying, "I just know this is the best thing to do in this situation!" Facts should lead us to better decisions. Facts provide the basis for improved decision making as well as monitoring or measuring the performance of the decisions over time. The advent of business intelligence tools made it easier for us to access business facts that can help us make better decisions. However, it's analytic applications that will make "managing by fact" mainstream.

The term analytic applications was coined in 1997 by IDC to refer to packaged application software designed to predict, measure and optimize business performance. Many types of analyses fall within the various categories of analytic applications. IDC separates analytic applications into three main categories.

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