Purpose: Business analytics (BA) has attracted growing attention mainly due to the phenomena of big data. While studies suggest that BA positively affects organizational performance, there is a lack of academic research. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to examine the extent to which top- and bottom-performing companies differ regarding their use and organizational facilitation of BA. Design/methodology/approach: Hypotheses are developed drawing on the information processing view and contingency theory, and tested using multivariate analysis of variance to analyze data collected from 117 UK manufacture companies. Findings: Top- and bottom-performing companies differ significantly in their use of BA, data-driven environment, and level of fit between BA and data-drain environment. Practical implications: Extensive use of BA and data-driven decisions will lead to superior firm performance. Companies wishing to use BA to improve decision making and performance need to develop relevant analytical strategy to guide BA activities and design its structure and business processes to embed BA activities. Originality/value: This study provides useful management insights into the effective use of BA for improving organizational performance. © 2017, © Emerald Publishing Limited.