Business Analytics

Business analytics is a common term that is often associated with BI. Does it mean the same thing? Hard to say exactly, but we’ll provide a take on it here, as it can mean different things in different contexts and environments.

Many folks in the data mining industry will use the term to describe their work, or use derivatives like predictive analytics. Even more confusing is that companies like IBM have renamed and marketed their previous business intelligence branches as analytics. Other competitors like Microstrategy have kept pretty close to the old terms. Others, like SAS, use the terms interchangeably in some cases, but then call themselves an analytics company. So I suppose the short answer is it depends!

At, we tend to think of some of the more specialized analytical and statistical functionality as analytics. Some times this would include tools like regression analysis, data mining, or just plain Export to Excel. OLAP, and cube based analysis can fall under this label as as well, as it tends to lend itself to more sophisticated data consumers who need specifically aggregated and calculated information.Many organizations, even in the age of spreading enterprise business intelligence, use Excel and its personal modeling ability, for the hard core viewing. Some may consider that a failing of BI, or a testament to the power of the tool. More wide-spread “enterprise” type functionality, such as reports, dashboards, alerting, and scorecards, would fall under traditional BI. These would be most of the oft-cited 5 styles.

The most important thing to take away is to understand that vendors, BI users, and industry analysts will use different terms to discuss different areas of BI and analytics. Its important to know what direction or background they come from, as that will often help guide the functionality they’re discussing.

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