October 25th, 2022 | by CSHARK

Difference Between Business Intelligence and Business Analytics

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With each day passing by, businesses produce an overwhelming amount of data. 

That data can be used to improve decision-making processes, identify potential issues, and generate more profit. This is where business intelligence and business analytics come in handy as they provide information about the past, present, and future of the company.

That being said, we have to mention that BI and BA differ slightly, and those distinctive factors are the focus of this article. Let’s dive in.

What is business intelligence?

Business intelligence (BI) is a set of practices, technologies, and applications for collecting business data, which is the source of the company’s business intelligence. In other words, it’s an infrastructure that helps to collect, analyze, and store data from all business operations. 

BI delivers a comprehensive overview of business metrics and supports better decisions. By using business intelligence, you can quickly spot market trends, increase compliance, and performance as well as improve every aspect of the business.

What is business analytics?

Business analytics (BA) is a subgroup of BI and is all about taking the raw data about the business and using it for trend identification, outcome prediction, and many more. BA is considered to be more statistic-based and helps develop growth strategies.

Business analytics tools are used for processes like forecast analysis, regression analysis, correlational analysis, or factor analysis.

The difference between business intelligence and business analysis is the fact that BI will give you an overview of the current customers while BA might inform you about what your potential future customers are doing.

Common methodologies in business analytics are:

  • data visualization with charts, tables, and graphs,
  • data mining by sorting through large amounts of data and trends,
  • aggregation of data to be analyzed,
  • predictive modeling and extracting information from data to identify patterns and future trends,
  • forecasting by analyzing historical data to estimate future outcomes.

Business intelligence vs. business analytics – biggest differences

As said above, there are several key differences between business intelligence and business analytics. The biggest one is the questions they answer. 

BI focuses on descriptive analytics, giving a summary of the historical and present data. This informs the business about what’s currently going on and what has happened in the past. BI answers the question of ‘What’ and ‘How’.

On the other hand, BA is all about predictive analytics to determine future outcomes. It makes use of machine learning (ML), data mining, and modeling. BA answers the question of ‘Why’

There are also differences connected to:

  1. Reporting vs applying – generally, BI is simpler. Its reports are easy to read and often come in a form of dashboards and charts. In BA, the data is more complex and it’s used not only for reporting but also to predict further trends.
  2. Descriptive vs predictive – business intelligence tells you what happened, and what is happening now. On the contrary, business analytics is more like predictive analytics which tries to identify trends and patterns. BI is dedicated to current business operations while BA is more suitable for future business operations.
  3. Managers vs analysts – with BI and BA the end-user is yet another difference. Business intelligence gives information to managers, marketers, and accountants, without the need for any technical expertise. Business analytics is dedicated to someone with data analysis training, as it requires more work for parsing and interpreting the collected information.

The differences between BI and BA are also highlighted in business trends like language, job growth, size and age of the organization, and plans for the future. They look something like this:

  • Market trends – BA is newer and trendier than BI. Even though those two majorly overlap, people are more and more interested in business analytics, compared to business intelligence.
  • Size and age of the organization – business intelligence tools can be applied in both large enterprises and small companies to help them improve their functioning and prepare for the future. New businesses will most likely profit from business analytics to become more competitive in the market.
  • Present vs future – as we already said, business intelligence focuses more on the present, while BA on the future challenges. That being said, BI tools may be more useful for organizations that are content with the current processes, but just want to make them more efficient. Those who want to change their business model may want to look into business analytics more.

BI and BA in the real world

Business intelligence and business analytics are frequently applied in real-world activities. If we take an online store with custom jewelry, for example, BI will provide insights on the past, and current state of the business, whether sales for a particular piece increased or decreased while BA will try to answer the questions of why the demand changed. Many other industries make use of business intelligence and business analytics operations. Let’s look at the examples.

Software development

Business intelligence in software development companies is visible in marketing, sales, and HR departments. Business analytics provides support for company-wide decisions by gathering and analyzing information. BA specialists are also involved in the project implementation, and aligning the company’s direction with their current projects.

Banking and finances

Companies like banks or financial enterprises use BI for analytics reports of loans, defaulters, customer profiles, and many more. On the other hand, BAs advise employees on improving workflows, offering new plans, or lead generation initiatives.

Customer services

By using business intelligence, customer services, like the already mentioned eCommerce store, can get an overview of buyer metrics and patterns. Those include statistics like conversion and bounce rates, demographics, product performance, website, and in-store visits.

The same metrics will be used as a tool for business analytics to perform sales and demand analysis, pricing and production planning, as well as sales and demand forecasting.


BI in hospitals can be used for electronic health reports to improve the overall care quality or documentation processes. Hospital business intelligence can also support planning treatments for patients, keeping staff in the loop, and identifying patients who need follow-up visits.

Healthcare business analytics create strategies to streamline all processes and maintain the highest efficiency. Their work also involves workforce management and creating relationships with insurance providers or third-party services.

How to determine business intelligence and business analytics needs?

There’s no straightforward recipe that can help business executives decide whether or not to apply business intelligence or business analytics tools. Truth be told, most companies need both of them to succeed. 

What is more, people often use those terms interchangeably or to mean a variety of things, so it would be more beneficial to determine what you want to achieve with the collected data and who will be using it.


Both business intelligence, as well as business analysis, can give companies a great deal of important information helping them make smarter business decisions. 

The implementation of one or the other will depend on the specific needs of the organization – whether it plans to focus on the present or the future. 

However, for most institutions, it’s best to start with a BI program, and later on incorporate elements of BA to make predictions and prepare an action plan to improve efficiency, generate more revenue, and grow in the market.


This article wouldn’t have been written without the engagement of our CSHARKers! It was created thanks to their expert knowledge & extensive experience. As multiple people were involved in the consultancy, creation, and verification process, we figured it’s not fair to list just one of us as an author. Let’s say it was a collective work of many great minds.