How is Business Intelligence different from Big Data?

  • 18th Jul, 2016

Big Data and Business Intelligence are often used interchangeably, but technically they are two different processes that occupy distinctive roles within the same circle.  So, what is the basic difference that people fail to see?

It is more like ‘fishing in the lake’ and ‘fishing in the sea’. If your business data that is structured is not in high volume or variety then you can make use of typical business intelligence tools and techniques.
However, if the data available is of very high volume and variety (Big Data) then you need specific Big Data software tools and techniques to extract the data and get meaningful insights from it.

Big Data: Big data is a buzzword that defines a domain for any technology that handles data from various sources (mostly unstructured) involving volume, variety and velocity. The term is so complex that it needs the adjective ‘Big’ to show it’s a big deal. It is definitely not about the data or data size and is unrelated with analytics but allows the analytics to be performed on data with those properties, because it’s about technology. It is the store you visit when the refined information to answer your questions is not easily available. And just like a real library it also allows you to search for answers to questions you didn’t even know you may ever have about your business processes.

Business Intelligence: BI was also used as a tech-umbrella term for years but now has shifted to a business umbrella term for it is data-driven decision making. It refers to taking big data and transforming it into forms which businesses can use to proceed to use for actionable insights and improving business processes. It includes the generation, aggregation, analysis, and visualization of data to inform and facilitate business administration and strategizing. BI nowadays is everything that uses data to inform business decisions. For example, now we don’t have to use BI suites to have a BI team.

The terms like Big Data, Analytics and Data mining refer to some facet of how the information is gathered but Business Intelligence goes beyond the data, from the usage of the insights leaders assemble, to the processes that support data collection and their reporting,  only to aid a better business decision.

It is quite difficult to understand their true meanings because conceptually they have many overlaps but understanding the disparities can save you from many business blunders.

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