When performing a statistical or business analysis, both qualitative and quantitative factors are considered. Quantitative indicators are those that can be objectively measured. They can include sales numbers, expenditure data and customer satisfaction ratings, among other things. They differ from qualitative indicators, which are primarily anecdotal and cannot be specifically measured. While both types provide viable information, the quantitative indicators generally provide the most usable data because hard numbers are easy to understand and to compare.
Quantitative indicators can be expressed in a number of ways, depending on the data involved and its use. These can include whole numbers, decimals, ratios, fractions, percentages and monetary values — quantitative factors can always be expressed as a number. Qualitative indicators, on the other hand, are expressed as either independent statements or as relative terms such as "good," "better," and "best."
Depending on the type of analysis performed, a company might consider many various types of quantitative indicators. For example, if a company wants to know whether or not they are succeeding financially, it might consider annual sales data and annual expenditures. It might also want to look at average profit per sale and the total number of clients. If, on the other hand, the company is concerned with customer satisfaction, it might instead evaluate the number of customer complaints, the number of repeat buyers, the number of referrals and the number of returns.
One of the main benefits of quantitative indicators is that they are easy to compare. A company can use the data to compare a specific indicator across a period of time, for instance. By comparing monthly sales data over the course of a year or comparing year-over-year sales data, for example, it can easily see if it is increasing its sales. It can also compare its numbers to those of a competitor.
In business, there are a vast number of uses for the data gleaned from quantitative indicators. In addition to allowing a company to track overall improvements or declines, they can be used to assess the effectiveness of employees, departments, programs, projects or initiatives. Quantitative data is also commonly considered by potential investors and creditors.
Business and industry are not the only segments that utilize quantitative indicators. They also play important roles in most of the sciences and in science-related industries, such as pharmaceuticals and medicine. Research and experiment results also are often recorded as quantifiable data so that progress can be clearly and effectively measured.