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James Taylor's Decision Management

James Taylor

Business Intelligence or Business Analytics?

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At the SAS Global Forum this week some SAS speakers drew a distinction between Business Intelligence - BI - and Business Analytics. This distinction between Business Intelligence (what everyone else does) and Business Analytics (what SAS does) struck me as a distinction without a difference, as a friend of mine used to say.

As SAS talked about its business analytics framework it became clear that they envision the results of data mining and predictive analytics (where they genuinely have offerings superior to almost everyone) will be delivered in reports or dashboards. This is what I have somewhat dismissively called "predictive reporting" and while it is better than purely historical reporting, it does not do much to make every decision analytically based as it leaves out the decisions made by machines (which don't read reports) and those made by people with too little time to read a report (most call center or retail staff, for instance) or no skill at interpreting it.

I guess I just don't see the difference between BI and BA...



Its my personal strong belief, that computers and the data collected or analyzed within them, ought to be viewed as decision SUPPORT tools - rather than automated decision makers who can replace the human person or manager who will act on decisions.

so that said, i don't think SAS is implying that with Business Analytics EVERY decision can be simplified and represented in an easy to comprehend dashboard - but rather that the more we progress in this area -- by taking advantage of the visualization and complex analytic tehnologies that are available - the more time and energy decision makers can devote to the tough issues that challenge them.

Working for a company specializing in predictive analytics, I hope to be able to provide clarity on this. The distinction between BI and Predicitve Analytics may appear minimal on the surface as your article rightly points out. However, scratch a little deeper and you'll see that BI allows the top ranking 5% C-level executives to make informed strategic, aggregated data driven decisions. Predictive Analytics on the other hand extends this insight to the other 95% of the business by driving propensity to buy / churn / commit fraud etc at an operational & individual customer level.

Business Intelligence with Office SharePoint Server 2007 provides an infrastructure that makes it easy for decision-makers to access information anytime, anywhere. People can get up-to-date information where they work, collaborate, and make decisions, whether it's on the desktop or over the Web.
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I liked back to this from one of my articles on the same topic, which may be viewed here: http://peterthomas.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/neil-radens-thoughts-on-business-analytics-vs-business-intelligence/


James Taylor blogs about decision-management technologies such as predictive analytics and business rules, discussing how they deliver agility, improve business processes and bring intelligent automation to SOA.

James Taylor

James Taylor blogs on decision management for ebizQ, and is an independent consultant on decision management, predictive analytics, business rules, and related topics.

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