Did you know more than four million Google searches are made worldwide every minute of every day? The amount of data that generates is enormous.

The key is to find and use that valuable data for your business, as it is considered by many to be a real competitive advantage. This is a good reason for you to understand specific terms like Big Data and Business Intelligence. Believe it or not, they don’t mean the same thing and both play different roles for a business.

Business Intelligence (BI), Big Data, or Analytics are popular terms used when it comes to data. In many cases, people think of them as being similar, even if they don’t really know how to explain each term. It is a frequent and understandable problem as the technology industry develops so rapidly.

In the past, many references use BI as a generic term for all technology related to data, from generating and storing to analyzing and reporting. The reality is that, in simple terms, Big Data is about technology and BI is about business and decision making. They intersect with each other, but are more different than alike, as they represent different processes, and play different roles in a company.

Let’s be more precise and see what the core definition is for each term.

Technology vs. action

Big Data is the technology that generates, stores, and processes enormous amounts of information available in the cloud and online, from internal and external sources for an organization. We can speak about the great volume and variety of intelligence that must be analyzed to become relevant. Some of it may be useless at a specific time.

Business Intelligence is about engaging with any amount of data – no matter how big or small – and pulling out valuable information and business insights to support a company’s growth. It refers to systems and software that allow data generation and collection, analysis, and reporting with the purpose of facilitating business decisions.

If you want a visual approach, think about Big Data as a garden full of vegetables and herbs of all kinds, but one that is disorganized. You don’t know what all of them are and how to use them, while Business Intelligence is the person that wants to cook a specific dish, selects the proper vegetables and herbs for it, combines them, and creates the desired meal.

Of course, it is a forced analogy, but we hope it helps you better understand the difference between Business Intelligence and Big Data.

Specific differences

It is also important to learn more about the specific distinctions between them.

1. BI can be a single system to implement and manage, with well-determined reports and answers. Big Data is defined by high volume, variety, and velocity and you need a complex group of software and technologies to process the information.

2. They have different places in business. Somebody explained the difference between Business Intelligence and Big Data roles very simply: BI delivers well-designed responses to different problems you know; it helps when making a business decision. Big Data can pose new questions you didn’t even know you had.

3. They meet different business needs. People are buying BI for better data visualization, for reporting across multiple systems, automation, and better organization (source). On the other hand, a study signed by DataMeer showed that Big Data is used in sales and marketing departments for customer analytics (48%), operational analytics (21%), fraud and compliance (12%), and new product and service innovation (10%).

Whatever a company’s intelligence volume and technological capabilities, it is important to watch your data and capitalize on it. The demand for business intelligence and analytics is growing constantly, as it can bring important competitive advantages and boost business development.