You've probably read or heard quite a lot about both Business Intelligence and Visual Analytics in the last couple of years. A lot of the time, people use these terms interchangeably. This can be somewhat confusing, as although both technologies tend to be employed for the same reason – to provide valuable insights on which businesses can base future decisions – they are in fact separate ideas.
In order to clear up the confusion, AtoBI will outline the differences between Business Intelligence and Visual Analytics. We'll start with a definition of each.
What is Business Intelligence?
Business Intelligence refers to technologies and strategies for the collection and analysis of business information. The purpose of Business Intelligence is to help professionals make better informed decisions about business practices. You wouldn't make a personal decision without first weighing up your values, your past experiences, and your goals for the future – and neither should your business.
While a business will obviously weigh up data of a different type, the reasoning remains: No decision should be rushed or made without careful consideration, and Business Intelligence brings together all the information that must be considered.
Typically, Business Intelligence has used by executives, managers and the analysts who support them, and the most common tools are the dashboard and reporting functions. Recently there has been a shift away from this as the market is moving towards self-service – wherein businesses are trained to generate the insights they need for their specific areas.
Gaining insights from Business Intelligence may have once been a job for the IT department, but most platforms are now designed with the end user in mind. This means that Business Intelligence platforms are increasingly flexible, offering support to a greater range of professionals who can use a robust toolkit to generate their own insights.
Of course, it's still of great importance that you choose the best platform for your business, integrate it in the right way, and have support on hand should you need it. This is where AtoBI comes in. Our team of professionals work with you to understand your business and what your goals are, so we can help you implement a solution that will help you meet them.
What is Visual Analytics?
Visual Analytics is concerned with accurate and easily understandable visualisations of data. The purpose of Visual Analytics is to represent complex data sets in a digestible way. If you glance at a spreadsheet, you are unlikely to gain any immediate insight – you would need to sit down and carefully consider every column and row before any information could be extracted. A graph, on the other hand, takes only seconds to grasp – the data is condensed into its most simple iteration.
While Business Intelligence brings together historical, and in many cases, up-to the minute data to generate reports based on current operations, Visual Analytics explores data in different way to uncover patterns on which future predictions can be made.
With the use of data-mining algorithms, Visual Analytics is primarily automated. Through analytic reasoning, Visual Analytics platforms have the ability to discern complex relationships in information, be it qualitative or quantitative. Subsequently, these platforms can represent data that is otherwise unintelligible to a human, and through a process that is far from intuitive.
The capabilities of Visual Analytics tools can be manipulated in a number of ways to suit the end goal of the user. These tools are used by the same set of professionals as Business Intelligence tools, yet can provide projections based on more complex translations of data. AtoBI can help you find the Visual Analytics solution that you need.
What are the key differences?
The differences between Business Intelligence and Visual Analytics are often highlighted as being a matter of reporting vs. analysing, maintenance vs. growth, or understanding the past vs. looking to the future. While none of these are specifically wrong, here is our take:
While Business Intelligence and Visual Analytics do in many cases overlap, it's important to note that there is a distinction. Most simply, you could view Visual Analytics as a tool for Business Intelligence. Therefore, if Business Intelligence is "the roads" then Visual Analytics might be "the Highway" – a single road that can take you to multiple destinations.
The best Business Intelligence solution for your business will combine insights from the past with projections for the future.
Extending that metaphor, you could look at it like this: Your business is the car, travelling forward through time and space on your way to what you hope is success. Your odometer is Business Intelligence – it tells you exactly how far you've travelled since the last landmark. It doesn't mean you know where you're going, but this tool will help you assess the route you've taken up until now. Visual Analytics could then be considered as the "mile markers" on the side of the road – the signs that outline how far you have to go and which turns to take to make it to your next destination.
In our car analogy, the best way to move forward is to have both sets of information available – like what a GPS system might do. Similarly, the best Business Intelligence solution for your business will combine insights from the past with projections for the future – it's just a matter of finding out which software platform will make the best GPS for your business.
AtoBI specialise in helping businesses integrate the best Visual Analytics and decision making solutions available. Not only can we help you make the right choice of platform, we can help you use it to the fullest extent of its capabilities so that you can direct your business into a bright future.