Continuing evolution in the field of technology provides businesses with numerous tools they can use in order to promote growth and stability. However, businesses have to thoroughly understand these tools, their benefits and how to use them in order to profit from their use. Such is the case with Business Intelligence, which is often misunderstood.

Not only are there quite a few big words that one must understand in order to operate well in the field of Business Intelligence, some of these words are often used interchangeably. Needless to say, this can further complicate matters–especially when one individual’s concept of a key term varies dramatically from another individual’s concept of that same key term. This is no more obvious than with the term “Business Intelligence,” which is sometimes used interchangeably with the term “Business Analytics.”

Defining Language

There are some basic similarities between Business Intelligence and Business Analytics, but there are many more differences that clearly separate them. It can happen that some individuals will use “Business Analytics” to describe what others would refer to as “Business Intelligence” simply because they feel that the former is better suited to their overall business focus and perspective. This is not actually surprising, as even when leading experts in the Business Intelligence field have tried to shed some light on the true distinction between these two very different terms, the result has been some wide variances of opinion. Some experts state that the term used to describe a business’ actions in this field is indeed dependent upon the business’ focus and perspective, while other experts believe that while the two fields may be related and co-dependent, there is a very real and obvious difference between them. That said, there are some basic defining points one should consider.

Business Intelligence could be simply described as what is needed to run a business, while Business Analytics could be simply described as what is needed to change a business. Business Intelligence accesses real-time data in order to help workers perform their job functions more effectively, thereby increasing the business’ overall operational efficiency. Additionally, Business Intelligence analyzes historical data for the purposes of allowing more informed decision-making, and a better ability to identify and resolve problems that arise. In a way, one could say that Business Intelligence is a way to look back on how things were in order to increase current operations.

On the other hand, Business Analytics focuses more on exploring historical data with statistical analysis, quantitative analysis, data mining, predictive modeling and more so as to better identify certain trends in order to bring about successful business change while maintaining successful business practices. Business Analytics is a way for a business to use the information they have in order to consider their future, and how things will work out when certain changes are instituted.

Some individuals feel that the easiest way to draw a distinction between the two terms is to view Business Intelligence as a noun that describes acquiring, persisting, warehousing, analyzing and reporting insights, while Business Analytics is a verb that refers to the specific methods and tools one uses to analyze information, and it would, therefore, fall under the umbrella of Business Intelligence as a sort of sub-category. Clearly, business intelligence reporting and business intelligence analytics are separate but interconnected since a business obviously cannot analyze data that has not been first collected, just as a business that does not analyze data they have collected will fail to receive the potentially enormous benefits available through this collection and analyzation. However one personally feels about these two key terms, however, it is clear that both Business Intelligence and Business Analytics are important but very different. They can both provide valuable insight that is wonderfully useful in growing and shaping a successful business.

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