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Baniya merchants of the Mughal Empire, burgher merchants of the Swedish Empire, and chonin merchants of the Tokugawa Shogunate had the same questions on their mind as business people do today. To which townspeople should I sell my wares? Of folks that buy from me, are there any that might stop buying from me? Which groups buy which goods? Which saris should I show Ranna Devi to make as much money as I can? How much timber will people want in the coming weeks and months? The world has changed over the centuries with globalization, rapid transportation, instantaneous communication, expansive enterprises, and an explosion of data and signals along with ample computation to process them. In this new age, many continue to answer the aforementioned and other critical business questions in the old-fashioned way, i.e., based on intuition, gut instinct, and personal experience. In our globalized world, however, this is not sufficient anymore and it is essential to replace the business person's gut instinct with science. That science is business analytics. Business analytics is a broad umbrella entailing many problems and solutions, such as demand forecasting and conditioning, resource capacity planning, workforce planning, salesforce modeling and optimization, revenue forecasting, customer/product analytics, and enterprise recommender systems. In our department, we are in creasingly directing our focus on developing models and techniques to address such business problems. The goal of this article is to provide the reader with an overview of this interesting new area of research and then hone in on applications that might require the use of sophisticated signal processing methodologies and utilize financial signals as input.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2011