Business Intelligence Vs Business Analytics: The Better Choice?

Business intelligence vs business analytics

For a business to thrive in today’s highly digitized and connected world, three vital questions need to be answered: What’s Working, What’s Not, and How to Improve? But with 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day, figuring out how to go about it is a cumbersome task.

The huge quantity and scope of data produced and scattered by an organization makes it almost impossible for businesses to gain a data-driven edge over their competitors.

However, in today’s technological and big-data age, in order to compete at the highest level and support decision making, it is critical that enterprises centralize this scattered data into one formalized system. It helps them to leverage data efficiently to gain useful insights on past performance as well as future opportunities.

This is where Business Intelligence (BI) and Business Analytics (BA) come into the picture: both are of utmost importance, as they help efficient handling of data at your disposal, thereby supporting you to make more informed decisions. In fact, 82% of enterprises are prioritizing analytics and BI as part of their budgets.

But are all such enterprises aware of what BI and BA are?

Business Intelligence Vs Business Analytics: Are they the Same?

“What’s the difference between Business Analytics and Business Intelligence? The correct answer is: everybody has an opinion, but nobody knows…”~ Timo Elliot, Innovation Evangelist at SAP

Many business leaders dealing with Business Intelligence and Business Analytics often use these terms interchangeably. However, this is not really an accurate approach and is discouraged to pursue. No doubt, both are closely related to each other, still, there are a significant number of differences between BI and BA.

Getting acquainted with how these strategies differ will help you to choose the right option as per your organization’s requirements.

  • Business Intelligence is a strategy that deals with an assortment of technologies to help build data reports and track operational efficiency on a daily basis. In the case of BI, to identify and resolve operational inefficiencies you need to rely upon historical data. Executive dashboards, pivot tables, and management reports fall under the BI strategy.
  • Business Analytics approach puts emphasis on statistical analysis and predictive modeling. In simple words, this strategy goes beyond building management reports, offering businesses with valuable insights that pay attention to why the data is important. It helps deciding organizations where to head with valuable insights.

Let’s solidify things with the following business example that will clear the picture of Business Intelligence vs Business Analytics.

Assume you are heading the marketing team of an eCommerce company that uses both Business Intelligence and Business Analytics to launch new products. Now, in order to infer what new products have the possibility to succeed (Analytics), you would need to find answers to the following questions:

  • What products have been most successful in the past? (Business Intelligence)
  • What are the seasonal trends that have influenced the success of past launches? (Business Intelligence)
  • Why customers bought the past successful products? (Business Analytics)

business intelligence vs business analytics comparison

Business Intelligence Vs Business Analytics: Which One to Choose?

In order to run an organization based upon its requirements, Business Intelligence vs Business Analytics play separate as well as an integrated role with a single aim: enhancing business productivity. Thus, it becomes vital to understand when to deploy Business Intelligence and Business Analytics to your data strategy depending upon the following factors:

Structured vs Semi-Structured Data

Business Intelligence gets aptly applied to the applications dealing with the structured data (comprised of clearly defined data types whose pattern makes them easily searchable). The best example is ERP applications, for instance, Financial Software Systems. BI can be applied to such systems to get an insight from the financial transactions that have taken place earlier. BI is also used in the areas of supply chain and other operations.

structured data is mainly used in retail sector

On the other hand, the Business Analytics approach is applied to the structured as well as semi-structured data ( partially structured along with formats like audio, video, and social media postings), which is transformed into meaningful insights for business. Thus, Business Analytics is the best tool for media and utility companies as they are reported to use the highest percentage of semi-structured data.

Running Business Effectively vs Changing the Business Strategy

Choosing the right strategy for your business depends on your intentions. If you are comfortable with working on your present business model and looking forward to improving operations, increase efficiency, and meet organizational goals, then Business Intelligence is an ideal solution for your organization. In short, the businesses that rely heavily on real-time reporting tend to lean toward BI as they are more concerned with what they can improve in the here and now.

On the other hand, deploy Business Analytics to your organization strategy if you are planning to change your entire business processes or even your business model, but you do not have the vital insights to rely upon to bring the necessary changes.

In a nutshell, Business Intelligence offers methods to run the business effectively, whereas Business Analytics is the method of changing the business strategies to make it more productive.

Predictive vs Descriptive

predective vs descreptive data

When CMOs are out of all the options to market their product, then they need to rely on the data to figure out what happened or is happening right now in their business environment. And a perfect strategy to include in the business model at that time is Business Intelligence. It does not just answer the ‘what’ questions, rather a good BI platform also describes the situation to you in real-time in as much granular, forensic detail you need.

Thus, BI is descriptive in nature, dealing with historical data leading right up to the present, and what you do with that information is up to you. Ideally, if you choose BI as your platform, it implies you are interested to learn from past mistakes, build on past successes, and feed this into your decision-making going forward.

Business Analytics, on the other hand, primarily deals in predicting what will happen in the future. Using statistical analysis and predictive modeling, BA strategy provides you with an idea of what to expect so that you can anticipate developments or make changes now to improve outcomes.


Choosing the right solution for your organization’s data strategy is not an easy task. You need to thoroughly focus on what you want from your business model, and who will be the stakeholders involved. How much detailed insights do you need? Is your plan more focussed towards understanding how you got here or getting an idea of where you’ll go next?

Answering these questions will help you establish a clear cut idea about what your primary objective is. Additionally, involving expert digital experience agencies who can help you analyze your choice based upon your business requirements, can take you steps ahead of your competitors.

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Arshpreet Kaur

About the Author

Arshpreet is currently working with Net Solutions as a Lead Business Analyst. She plays an indispensable role in providing top-notch analytical and resource management advice to companies of all sizes. Her well-rounded knowledge in engineering concepts and a certification as a Scrum Product Owner helps her to handle multiple projects effectively, defining the product vision, acting as primary liaison with stakeholders and delivering value to customers.

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