BI, Data Analysts and Data Scientists - confusing?

There is lot of confusion about terminologies. Have a look at the definition of Business Intelligence in Wikipedia (Business intelligence - Wikipedia). Pasted below for quick read.

“Business Intelligence (BI) comprises the strategies and technologies used by enterprises for the data analysis of business information. BI technologies provide historical, current and predictive views of business operations. Common functions of business intelligence technologies include reporting, online analytical processing, analytics, data mining, process mining, complex event processing, business performance management, benchmarking, text mining, predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics. BI technologies can handle large amounts of structured and sometimes unstructured data to help identify, develop and otherwise create new strategic business opportunities.”

Some of them wrongly assume that reporting and visualization tools as BI solutions (frontend) because that is the only part they see/have seen. And the reporting tool vendors also try to take full advantage of the situation by promoting their reporting tools as BI solutions. No, they are just part of the BI solution not the BI solution itself. There are lot more components in the background.

Business Intelligence, in short, is about deriving information and insight efficiently from data to enable better decision making to improve a business. Data here refers to all sorts of data of all sizes and types (structured or not), business refers to all types of businesses irrespective of the nature of the business. BI is not limited by any particular technology, processes, roles or tools.

So, whether you code/script or use GUI tools to design jobs/transformations/logic/reports or perform data analysis, visualize data, etc., to bring out the information and insight from data it is all part of BI if the intention is to enable better decision making in order to improve business. If you are just creating fancy visualizations with no intention of improving business then you could still be doing data analysis and visualization but that data analysis and visualization is not part of BI. As you can see there is an overlap. It is the intention or the purpose that makes the difference.

I hope above explanation brings some clarity about BI and gives an understanding that BI is much broader than what some people may have earlier thought.

ETL developers, report developers, data modelers, BI architects, data analysts, BI analyst, BI BA, data scientists could all be part of the larger BI department. ETL developers, report developers, data modelers, BI architects and BI BA work towards developing the BI solution such that business users can make use of it, whereas BI analyst, data analyst and data scientists dive into the data in their own ways (less technical to more technical in that order) and get the information and insights and share the results/expected business outcomes with the management. So if you look at it this way, then data analysts and data scientists are roles within BI but not all data analysts and data scientists are BI professionals.


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