Business Intelligence or Analytics?

The Information Technology industry is known for heavy doses of acronyms and constantly changing terms. It may be one of the reasons we, as technical resources, find it difficult to communicate with others ( or for them to communicate with us labeled as “geeks” speaking “Greek” to them )?

Think about recent trends and topics for example. Beyond the typical “first letter of each word” acronyms like “LAMP” stack or “WYSIWYG” … how is someone either learning the English language or not familar with technical terms supposed to know these mean “Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl” stack and “What You See Is What You Get“? Oh really?  Why don’t we just call the “LAMP” stack the open source stack for example?

On top of that, we often use multiple terms that essentially mean the same thing … like “Business Intelligence” and “Analytics“.  WTH? (ha)

Seriously though, when did Business Intelligence or BI begin to fall out of favor and/or why does it appear to be increasingly replaced by the broader term Analytics when referring to software products designed for this space? Is it the same thing, or something different all together?

Meriam-Webster online dictionary definitions:


Business Intelligence – Sorry, the word you’re looking for can’t be found in the dictionary. There are several possible reasons why the search failed:

  • You searched for a word using nonstandard orthography that completely stumped our spell-checker.
  • You searched for a word that hasn’t been entered into the dictionary yet.

… OK, fair enough.  Not a real word according to the English dictionary … go figger, we computer scientists, the software media or technology investors came up with a new term to define a topic, yet again.   No problem, lets try:

Analyticsthe method of logical analysis.   Where analysis is defined as “a careful study of something to learn about its parts, what they do, and how they are related to each other.

… well, that seems clear enough and does seem to translate into basically what we know it to be in the technology world as “the use of electronic information stored, typically in a database or contents of various files, combined with tools to access, parse to find relationships or patterns by creating summarized data files, reports, graphs or other visual presentation of this data in a meaninful way for better decision making.

So, my question is, why did we need to come up with the new “BI” term instead of just using “Analytics” in the first place … a term, that according to Webster, has been around and in use for over 400 years since around circa 1590?

The reason I ask, relates to a description of what our suite of tools was designed primarily for … that being a change impact analysis tool … for all major databases and reporting tools used in “business intelligence” and/or “(data) analytics” software stacks.

Which term would better describe our productivity software for developers?  This is important to the extent of which terms should be used for blog posts and web content … so that when someone is searching for a change impact analysis tool, FinditEZ gets “found” as a tool that may be of value for a developer, DBA or project manager whenever they plan a change to their enterprise software’s underlying data model?

Maybe the answer is “either” … or more specifically, perhaps Business Intelligence is just one component of Anaytics software? … that being the reporting tools part only?   What do you think?

About the author

Ken Gnazdowsky holds a Bachelor of (Computing) Science degree from Simon Fraser University. A recipient of the Governor General of Canada bronze medallion, he began his post-secondary education at Brandon University on an academic scholarship, Ken has worked in the software development industry for over 30 years. Ken is co-founder and President of Find it EZ Software Corp., creators of the Microsoft award-winning products, Code Search Pro and Dev Surge 365.

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