Business intelligence (BI) is a technology-driven process for analyzing data and presenting actionable information to help executives, managers and other corporate end users make informed business decisions.
The potential benefits of business intelligence tools include accelerating and improving decision-making, optimizing internal business processes, increasing operational efficiency, driving new revenues and gaining competitive advantage over business rivals. BI systems can also help companies identify market trends and spot business problems that need to be addressed.
BI data can include historical information stored in a data warehouse, as well as new data gathered from source systems as it is generated, enabling BI tools to support both strategic and tactical decision-making processes.
Initially, BI tools were primarily used by data analysts and other IT professionals who ran analyses and produced reports with query results for business users. Increasingly, however, business executives and workers are using BI platforms themselves, thanks partly to the development of self-service BI and data discovery tools and dashboards.
Business analytics (BA) is the practice of iterative, methodical exploration of an organization's data, with an emphasis on statistical analysis. Business analytics is used by companies committed to data-driven decision-making.
Specific types of business analytics include:
Descriptive analytics, which tracks key performance indicators to understand the present state of a business;
Predictive analytics, which analyzes trend data to assess the likelihood of future outcomes; and
Prescriptive analytics, which uses past performance to generate recommendations about how to handle similar situations in the future.