Business Intelligence vs. Business Analytics

Posted by Bhavesh Joshi On Saturday, February 23, 2013 0 comments
Business Intelligence
The painful truth about the difference between business analytics and business intelligence is that if you ask two people to tell you the difference, you're going to get two conflicting sets of differences explained to you. A lot of business analysis terms get misused, reinterpreted and misappropriated until their original meaning is a murky memory from the distant past.

It's not so much that there is no difference, it's just that you need to be prepared to acknowledge that people are going to fight you on it, and that you can't assume that you're speaking the same language as everyone else in the room until you break it down into plain English. Everyone has their own idea of what every business term means, so until we get down to talking about the actual points of data and the strategies being used, there's going to be a lot of confusion.

In other words, a lot of the difference between business analytics and business intelligence comes down to semantics, and who showed up for what meeting. Go to two different offices and you'll find that they've both developed their own vernacular. Some will use "analytics" and "intelligence" almost interchangeably while others have a strict definition for each.

A Look at the Data and Trends

You need only take a look at Google Trends to see how these terms are used: since 2004, the term "business analytics" has been slowly, gradually decreasing, while the term "business intelligence" took a sharp increase in 2009 and has been gradually increasing since, following a spike here and there over the years.

In other words, one phrase seems to be replacing the other.

A common understanding is that business intelligence is the whole field of business analysis and IT, while business analytics is just the math part itself, not the strategizing, not the planning and marketing, just the math. Of course, another common understanding has it the other way around. 

Business Analytics
Most frequently, the difference in semantics seems to come down to one person or the other insisting that what they do is more dynamic and forward-thinking than the IT-only, rear-view perspective offered by the other guys. The truth is that by far the easiest way to communicate with your staff and your partners and your clients is to just call it "reporting." If you know that a prospect loves calling it "business intelligence," go ahead and call it business intelligence when he's in the room, otherwise, you might as well acknowledge that the terms are used interchangeably in the modern meeting room. Some people cling to one term or another, but at the end of the day we're all pretty much talking about the same thing.


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