The Death of Business Intelligence

Big Data v BI: Where is the real winner?

Posted in Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on November 25, 2013

Big Data is a relatively new revolution in the business world, used to analyse the vast amount of data that is constantly being thrown into the laps of companies at a rate that far exceeds anything businesses themselves are able to deal with.

It sits, however, in competition with Business Intelligence, a slightly older tool that leaders across the world make use of in order to turn the data that companies collect about their clients, customers and markets into something of a useful business strategy through.

Many people believe that the advent of Big Data and its widescale uptake will bring about the end of Business Intelligence, but does this really need to be the case? According to some experts, the answer is no, because the two operate on very different levels.

Analyse what?

Analysis is the key word whether you are making use of Business Intelligence or Big Data, which brings about a raft of comparisons between the two, but when we look at what they are actually doing, they offer something of a contrast.

While BI focuses on looking at historic trends of customers and their behaviour in order to develop a future strategy. It is based on the way people buy things and the way certain demographics act.

On the other hand, Big Data is used in real time, allowing companies far less time to react to what they learn, but much more of an ability to simply put into action something that will change the way something is being done.

Hence, the two methods require a very different set of skills in terms of IT, but also a much changed range of attitudes and approaches, with BI staff today starting to be able to offer a much more in depth understanding of the business, according to Sandeep Sachdeva, vice president in the global business information practice at Sogeti.

“In retail big data makes possible just-in-time advertising and just-in-time couponing to attract customers as they walk into – or past – a store,” Mr Sachdeva said.

All about the user

In addition to simply having a different approach to the technology though, there is also an inherent desire to use both BI and Big Data in any company because of BI’s much more user-oriented interface. Whereas Big Data requires little more than having a computer churning out results based on masses and masses of information the human mind could never hope to process, BI still has somewhat of a need for an end user to carry out the analysis.

Mr Sachdeva said that in the current market, there is still a degree of mistrust in numbers crunched purely by machines, and this means there will always be a need for the skills that BI analysts possess.

This was a theory backed by Lauren Sager Weinstein, head of analytics at Transport for London (TfL), who said that even though the company would have a far more reliable set of results from crunching the numbers of millions of annual fares, this is still not seen as being as “good” a source of information as the results of analysing surveys both online and through face-to-face interactions.

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