When a conversation in the C-suite shifts towards the practice of taking raw data and channelling it into insights, business intelligence (BI) and business analytics are likely to be mentioned in the same breath.
This is understandable if those involved aren’t up to date with the latest enterprise tech solutions and jargon; but pairing the two completely can lead to a muddled data strategy.
The BI mainstay
BI has been around in one form or another for quite some time. In essence, it is a part of the IT furniture that allows the distribution of standardised reports that monitor pre-determined key performance indicators and metrics across the enterprise, according to research collated by CIO.
In short, BI – while certainly a powerful, useful tool – is relatively static. That’s where business analytics takes over.
— RapidMiner (@RapidMiner) October 1, 2014
The analytics advantage
Gartner defines analytics as “a catch-all term for a variety of different BI and application-related initiatives”. Naturally, from that definition, it becomes clear that BI and analytics are inextricably linked. However, the latter is very much a tool for looking forward.
Rather than assessing where the enterprise has been, business analytics helps stakeholders gain an understanding of where the organisation can go in the future.
“Business intelligence is needed to run the business while business analytics are needed to change the business,” explained Pat Roche, vice president of engineering at Magnitude Software (as quoted by BetterBuys).
Ultimately, business analytics allow companies to be proactive in their approach to data, and how they leverage it.
A closer look at business analytics, including some specific examples by industry, can be found in this video from IBM:
Applying BI and analytics
The theory is one thing, but how can businesses actually set about leveraging business analytics?
Ninety-seven per cent of companies are leveraging some form of BI.
Well, there’s no hard and fast rule that all enterprises can abide by. Dataversity pointed to the fact that the both BI and business analytics have a broad range of uses, and the first step is to identity what the company needs to extract from its data.
One thing is for certain, the process of unlocking value from information can be done in less time thanks to the growing sophistication of the available solutions. That isn’t to say they are laborious to use, merely that today’s BI and analytics applications account for more computing power and capability.
In research collated by Bloomberg Businessweek, 97 per cent of companies were found to be leveraging some form of BI. However, few are doing so effectively and even less integrate both BI and business analytics.
The landscape for enterprise solutions is ever changing and those that aren’t ahead of the trends will likely be left behind by their rivals.