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What Is The Difference Between Business Intelligence And Analytics?

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Business intelligence uses past and current data to optimize the present for recent success, while business analytics analyzes the present to prepare companies for the future.

In today’s technology-driven world, companies sit on a massive pool of data that they generate from several different business activities.

Indeed, many businesses now have more data than they can handle.

But the data are usually meaningless until marketers analyze them for patterns, trends, relationships, and other useful information.

Technology solutions that define themselves as “business intelligence” (BI) or “analytics” both provide insights based on past and present data to shape decisions that will help to achieve business objectives.

What are the similarities and differences between business intelligence and analytics solutions?

What Is Business Analytics?

Business analytics is a type of predictive analytics.

Predictive analytics provides insights about likely future outcomes — forecasts, based on descriptive data but with added predictions using data science and often algorithms that use multiple data sets.

BA gathers and analyzes data, uses prediction modeling, and produces thoroughly visualized reports on custom dashboards and business intelligence.

These features contribute to finding and resolving the weak points of an organization—the comparisons between business intelligence and business analytics end here.

Many companies ease their way into analytics by implementing a business intelligence strategy.

It’s a good first step to putting a plan in place for gathering, storing, and structuring data.

Once the business intelligence strategy is underway and you get a feel for what the data tells you, many businesses begin to dive deeper with predictive business analytics.

Business Analysis Tools

Business analytics incorporates various stages and phases, such as:

  • SWOT analysis

  • Case simulation

  • Modeling of statistical methodologies and analysis

What Is Business Intelligence?

BI is about harnessing the full potential of big data your business generates in its daily activities, and analyzing this data to gain valuable insights into making informed decisions.

The goal is to boost productivity and improve the performance of your business using those insights.

BI prioritizes descriptive analytics, which provides a summary of historical and present data to show what has happened or is currently happening.

You can use BI to discover trends and information that would not have been disclosed.

Business intelligence uses mathematical, quantitative, and predictive analyses to identify existing patterns and explanations for recent performance and events.

The data are retrieved, analyzed, reported, and released under the supervision of business analytics.

Business intelligence reports track employee workloads, productivity trends, and company goals.

BI requires only basic math to calculate results – software can do that for the end-user.

BI uses mathematical models, querying, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to make projections.

Any professional can handle BI with the right tools, whereas BA needs a data professional with an analytics skill set that knows how to build machine learning capabilities.

BI Solutions

Business intelligence leverages a plethora of tools that fall under the umbrella of four key capabilities of BI solutions:

  • Organizational memory

  • Information integration

  • Insight creation

  • Presentation capability

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Where Does Business Intelligence Come From?

Modern business intelligence tools drive independent insight generation by offering self-service capabilities, reliable platforms, and data governance.

You can derive business intelligence insight from spreadsheet software, online analytical processing (OLAP) tools, data mining solutions, reporting software, and dashboarding tools.

Examples are Microsoft Excel, IBM Cognos, Microstrategy, Power BI, and Tableau.

What Is Data Analytics?

Data analytics takes large quantities of data to find trends and solve problems. Data analytics is used across disciplines—from the government to science.

It’s not just confined to business applications.

Data Analysis Techniques

Techniques used in data analysis stages include the types of tools common to them:

Data reports

Real-time analysis

Mapping analysis

Online analysis

Dashboarding

Business Analytics At Your Job

Business analytics is the systematic exploration of data with an emphasis on statistical analysis that provides actionable insights.

Business Analytics combines advanced statistical analysis and predictive modeling to interpret data to discover future trends and patterns based on the current data.

Let’s say you work at a credit card company, and you could analyze the data of your customers to determine who is more likely to subscribe to a credit card offer.

In fact, from cyber security to finance, marketing, education, healthcare, and energy, all of these sectors could benefit from applying and improving their analytics.

Business analytics is any data-driven process that provides insights to create value.

To get information on past financial information or past financial activities as well as on the supply chain and processes, business intelligence could be more applicable to organized information from business applications such as financial software systems or enterprise resources planning (ERP).

What Do Analytics Solutions Do?

The functions of an analytics tool are:

  • Statistical and quantitative analysis

  • Data mining

  • Predictive modeling

  • Multivariate testing

  • Forecasting

  • Scenario analysis

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What Does A Business Analyst Do?

Your role is to translate customer requirements into business projects, liaising between tech teams, support teams, and development.

A business analyst would deal less with the technical aspects of analysis and more with the practical applications of data insights.

You might have to track product life cycles by consistently communicating with project managers.

A business analyst sometimes acts as a project manager in smaller setups, so project management is a nice-to-have skill.

Business analysts and tech purchasers also worry about the key difference between business intelligence vs. business analytics.

What Does A Data Analyst Do?

In the business context, data analysis is only the first step in solving a problem. And acting on the solution to make better decisions is a critical next step.

A data analyst would look at how people use your website, identify traffic trends, analyze visitor demographics, and maybe even create a system for tracking how customers click through different pages.

Business Intelligence vs. Business Analytics

They sound almost identical, but there are key differences between business intelligence (BI) and business analytics (BA).

Business intelligence consumes the data in the same format to get insights. 

In contrast, business analytics transforms or breaks the existing data into different forms or elements, studying them as a whole to get some insights.

Business intelligence means analyzing and executing processes more than user interface dashboards

In contrast, business analytics has a lot to deal with and includes some understanding of software systems to perform the tasks.

BI identifies the trends, patterns, and relationships from the past data leading to the present without predicting the future.

BI collects data and creates visualizations that enable interpretation. These visualizations help stakeholders see past trends and make decisions based on them.

On the other hand, business analytics solutions can predict or forecast the future.

BA is about harnessing the power of BI to its full potential to predict future trends and outcomes based on historical data that may be of tangible or intangible value.

BI can be the basis for BA. The data collected and stored during the BI process can be used by analysts for predictive analysis later on.

While the two are very different terms, they are not contradictory; in fact, they work towards a common goal – increasing organizational productivity and improving business performance.

Both disciplines can benefit from a little data preparation.

BI and BA are a set of methodologies, architectures, and technologies that give meaningful insights into the existing data in different kinds of organizations, making them relevant for decision-making.

They are data management solutions implemented by businesses worldwide to achieve better decision-making through the collection and analysis of historical and present data.

Statistical Analysis

By using different statistical methods such as linear regressions, classification, and clustering to make forecasts, analysts can further understand buying behaviors and plan successful strategies.

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What Is Data Modeling?

Data analytics generally requires data modeling, in which raw data is collected, cleansed, categorized, converted, aggregated, validated, and otherwise transformed.

Clean data is also helpful for BI. Once the data is clean, it’s stored in a structure and format that lends itself to reporting.

Often that means the data is stored in a data warehouse.

Marketers or analysts can use data modeling to assess the success of marketing campaigns and find improvement opportunities.

For example, by analyzing behavioral data, you can predict a lead’s likelihood of moving down the funnel from awareness to purchase.

What Is A Data Warehouse?

A data warehouse is a columnar data store that often runs on scalable cloud infrastructure.

The data represents a single version of truth for all organizational reporting, BI, and data analytics.

Healthcare Business Intelligence

Electronic health records help healthcare providers improve care quality with better charting and documentation through patient data access.

EHR supports billing, telehealth, e-appointments, and scheduling workflows.

Which Option Should You Choose For Business Operations?

Business intelligence increases efficiency, while analytics uncovers opportunities. Choosing between business intelligence and analytics also depends on your strategic focus.

If your business model is stable, and you are looking to increase efficiency and take operational decisions in real-time, then a BI solution will serve you well.

On the other hand, if you are seeking insights in order to uncover new business opportunities, then you should consider an analytics product, as it will enable you to analyze your company performance and market trends so that you can shape the future.

The Bottom Line

Both business intelligence and business analytics give companies the ability to analyze data in order to make more informed decisions.

Whether those decisions affect current or future operations depends on which one is used.

And while BI tools are getting more powerful and providing advanced capabilities, data professionals are still needed for predictive business analytics.

The best strategy is often starting with a business intelligence program and then incorporating business analytics to make projections aimed at improving efficiency and opportunities.

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