Business intelligence vs business analytics debate

I stumbled upon an interesting debate on Quora the other day and I was compelled to write a blog post on it. The topic in question is business intelligence vs business analytics.

Business intelligence vs. business analytics: Is there really a difference?

Though I would agree that the applications of each term changes depending on who you speak to, everyone has their own interpretation.

To help bring some clarity to the business intelligence vs business analytics debate, I summed up a few high-level points used to describe each term:

Business intelligence:

  • refers to the tools, systems, and strategies used to gather, store, access business data to make more informed decisions
  • provides the WHAT: Bringing visibility into the important issues and critifal factors impacting a business
  • is a broader discipline that consists of several interrelated activities, such as data & text mining analysis, querying, dashboarding and reporting
  • is a technique used to identify and evaluate the  strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for new innovations of an organization
  • is used by most organizations and includes the basic functions like forecasting and reporting, but does not include the full data analysis component

Business analytics:

  • is the act of discovering insights using specialized tools or services
  • provides the WHY and allows you to investigate your data further to predict what will likely happen in the future
  • requires more in-depth statistical computations
  • business analytics’ goal is to discover data relationships, trends and patterns (data mining and analysis)
  • is used to determine future results (predictive analytics)
  • at its core, is based on statistically-rooted algorithms
  • is a subset of the BI family which includes: reporting, OLAP, data analysis, text mining, forecasting & benchmarking, and predictive analytics

Business Intelligence vs business analytics: Do we have it all wrong?

Although there is insurmountable evidence to support the debate, there are also some that would argue that these two terms are in fact the same. In fact many believe that these two definitions are interchangeable. Others believe that they are similar terms created to appeal to different audiences: business intelligence to appeal to business users and business analytics to appeal to IT admin or data analysts.

Perhaps one is simply just a subset of the other. It sounds to me like business intelligence is a methodology and business analytics represents the tools used to support it. Some would even argue that business analyticts is the superset of business intelligence (ok now my head hurts).

The fact remains that regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, the debate rages on and these interpretations shape our understanding of the data analytics sphere — or is it big data? Here we go again. 

Where do you stand on the whole debate? 

Share your thoughts now in the comments section below! Can’t wait to hear them.

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