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What is the Difference between Business Intelligence and Business Analytics?

Business Analytics (BA) and Business Intelligence (BI) are quite often used interchangeably by entrepreneurs and professionals alike. However, they’re not the same, unfortunately. 

Yes, one of them definitely overlaps with the other to some extent. However, the usage of the same is different from each other. And the tools required for each are quite diverse too. 

So, in this article, we will focus mostly on what BI and BA are while finding out how they are being unique on their own. Let’s get started with our guide right away. 

Business Intelligence – What is It?

Traditionally, Business Intelligence (BI) is referred to a block of data that is used to manage a business’s operational efficacy. It’s usually employed when you want to collect data about an operation you’re currently undertaking while maximizing your workflow. 

Furthermore, it can also be used to produce an informative report on your business strata and find out how you can improve it. This way, it becomes easier for you to achieve the goals of your business – both the short-term and the long-term ones. 

All-in-all, Business Intelligence is all about navigating a leader through industry-related and organizational challenges properly. It can also help a corporation stay focused on the target it is trying to accomplish in the long run. This can help their development eminently. 

Business Analytics – An Introduction

Business Analytics is almost like Business Intelligence – however, it’s much more statistical and varied. In this case, you will have to gather the raw data offered by BI and turn the same into a piece of useful information. For example, it can help you – 

  • Identify an ongoing or upcoming trend. 
  • Predicting the outcome of a business proceeding. 
  • Learning more about your core audience base. 

The most common BA procedure is data mining. In this case, you’ll have to sort through a large amount of data to identify trends and patterns. Aggregation is yet another BA process that can help you accumulate and organize your data before making an analysis. 

Furthermore, forecasting is all about evaluating historical data to estimate a future outcome. Data visualization, on the other hand, can be used to create a visual representation of a data analysis report through charts, graphs, and tables. 

The Differences between BA and BI 

Clearly, both of these procedures can improve your business’s overall efficiency by a mile. It might also require you to do a bit more in the research department. Nevertheless, if you are able to execute these accordingly, you can still develop your company exponentially.  

However, it’s still important to learn the core differences between them. So, let’s get started.  

Difference – 1: Descriptive vs Predictive

Business Intelligence usually focuses more on descriptive analytics. It, in turn, may help you get a summary of present and historical data to showcase what used to happen before. Hence it will be easier for you to compare it with the current scenario to check if you’ve developed your organization or not. All-in-all, if you’re looking for answers to your ‘hows’ and ‘whats,’ then BI should be the one you need to opt for. 

Business Analytics, on the other hand, tries to unearth the core of the predictive analysis. It does so by performing data mining, machine learning, and modeling. Thus, with it, you can easily identify patterns and trends in business analytics. Therefore, it will be easier for you to learn why something’s happening and whether something similar will occur in the future. Here, in this case, your end goal will be to predict the future of a business-related decision. 

Difference – 2: Current vs. The Future

The primary difference between BI and BA is literally the focus on when a circumstance and an event are occurring. For example, Business Intelligence is solely focused on the activities that are currently happening. Hence, with it, you can understand the effect of the direction you have taken in your business. Specifically, it will help you answer the following – 

What is happening currently and why’s it occurring now? 

Conversely, business analytics is all about finding out what can happen in the future. It does so by analyzing the current situation and discovering how a trend might evolve later on. The information is generally broken down into pieces, such as infographics, data processing, etc. so that it’s easier to understand. So, all in all, BA usually answers the question of – 

What’s going to happen next and how should you deal with it?

Difference – 3: Analysis vs. Management

Now, we’re going in the direction of the end-user showdown. 

The tools related to business intelligence generally present information in a much easier and clearer manner. This, in turn, makes it easier for accountants, marketers, and managers to flush out the data they need quickly. There’s no need to have technical expertise at all. 

However, compared to it, business analytics feel a little more involved. 

In this case, you have to predict the future by doing literal and proper math. There’s no other way around it. There is no ‘basic’ way of dealing with it. Thus, if you want to stay at the top of your analytics game, opting for a data specialist will be a must. 

Hence, all in all, if you want your managers to do all the jobs – opting for a data intelligence direction will be perfect for you. But, if you want to move forward into a technical zone, it’s best to hire someone who understands machine learning capabilities closely. 

Difference – 4: New vs. Existing

When it comes to easing your way into the world of analytics, it’s always best to build upon a business intelligence strategy at the beginning. And in this case, it is always a decent step, to begin with finding a place to collect, store, and structure the information. 

Once your business intelligence strategy is underway, you’ll get a feel for the meaning of the data you’ve gathered. Once you have noted down the information you have, you can analyze the existing data through predictive business analytics. 

The goal of BI is to understand what the current market is all about. So, first, you must gather all the new information you can get regarding your target audience. Once you have collected what you wanted to know, you will need to find a way to evaluate it. 

If needed, BI can, indeed, be the base for BA. However, for that, you’ll need to have a better and well-made plan.  

Difference – 5: Applying vs. Reporting

As said before, data is generally viewed or used quite differently depending on what you are doing. If you are thinking about creating a report on the current trends, you’ll have to use an intelligence tool. This way, it’ll be easier for you to delve deeper into the business game. 

However, once the reporting is done, you must evaluate the data thoroughly prior to making an application out of it. So, in a way, the end results of both BI and BA are different. 

Which One is Better?

Well, there’s nothing better or worse here. Both BI and BA have their own positive points. It might be best to integrate both of them into your business. However, if you’re still looking for a way to begin a comparison between them, we can help you with it. 

1: BI is a Lesser Form of Expressive Indicator than BA 

Business analysis usually relies on more than one aspect to illustrate the information you’ve collected to demonstrate your growth. After all, it’s much more descriptive and broader than business intelligence. Unlike BI, BA also monitors data from the present and the past to get insights about the current business market and how it might evolve later on. 

Thus, as an expressive indicator, it’s much more prominent than BA. However, the data you will have to collect for BA to work will come from BI. So, they are quite interconnected. 

2: BA is Much More Far-Sighted

Unlike BA, BI generally focuses on bringing immediate productive development to your business. Hence, it mostly relies upon the collected data and their current value. Once you’re done with extracting data, your job with the BI tools is done.  

On the other hand, BA is more of a constant and consistent process. You have to persistently analyze the data you have collected until the near future to set the direction you want to go. 

Note: BI uses reporting, data mining, and analytical processing to create a superior business strategy. And this, in a way, affects the business analysis. However, you have to conduct BA in a more planner manner to reprogram your future according to the business. 

3: BI has Some Limitations… Unlike BA 

Business intelligence is heavily reliant on the facet of data. Hence, sometimes, it encounters challenges while dealing with unstructured or semi-structured information. This, in turn, can sometimes lead to the tools offering irrelevant data and knowledge as a whole. 

However, business analysis deals with raw data much better than BI. Also, it can create a plausible insight from the data it has without any issues. 

The Bottom Line 

While BA might seem like a more-efficient option than BI – it doesn’t work well alone. You will always need to use business intelligence to garner the initial data before analyzing it. So make sure to plan your steps accordingly. Or else it may be difficult to build and develop an organization from scratch. 

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