Business Intelligence

Category Compare: Business Intelligence vs. Big Data

By | 4 min read | Published

In this report, we define and compare business intelligence software and big data software so you can decide which tool is better suited for your business requirements.

Both business intelligence and big data software deal with massive amounts of data and help generate meaningful business insights such as sales forecast data, customer buying behavior, and more.

Despite having these similarities, both these categories offer different functionalities. In this report, we’ll identify the similarities and differences between the two software categories and help you select the right one for your business requirements.

What is business intelligence software?

Business intelligence (BI) software helps businesses analyze their data—such as customer, finance, production, or human resource data—and make informed business decisions, improve processes, and drive business objectives.

With its focus set on key performance indicators, historical analysis, and future forecasting, a business intelligence tool provides a holistic view of a business by arranging data on a dashboard. The data, analysis results, and reports presented on the dashboard are converted into visuals such as charts and graphs for easier understanding of the concerned leaders and teams.

What is big data software?

Big data software helps businesses analyze huge amounts of disparate data to uncover valuable insights, such as buying trends or usage patterns. The focus of big data is on three Vs—volume, variety, and velocity. Volume refers to a large amount of data, variety refers to the variety of data types, and velocity is the rate at which the data is received.

Big data analytics tools are thus meant to handle larger, more complex sets of data as compared to BI tools. Some of the ways in which this tool can help are product development, machinery maintenance, and customer experience improvement.

What do they have in common?

Both business intelligence and big data solutions help businesses analyze large data sets and make sense of them by generating insights and reports. Both the tools’ ultimate goal is to enable businesses to make informed, data-backed business decisions and strategies. Big data contains data that eventually leads to business intelligence insights. Therefore, business intelligence can be viewed as a component of big data.

Besides, both the tools share a similar process. First, they process data from various sources and then, they generate answers to questions such as what the budget allocation for sales teams should be using certain formulas, based on forecasted sales. Lastly, both the tools use dashboards and different forms of reports to present their results for easier understanding of users.

Business intelligence software features

Big data software features

Which tool is right for you?

If you have structured or semi-structured data that is stored on a central server (data warehouse), then a business intelligence tool is the right platform for you. A BI tool answers what and where questions such as what is the total number of leads and where did they come from. Moreover, since it processes historical data, it is suitable for faster and more accurate reporting and analysis.

Whereas, if you have a raw or unstructured data set that is aggregated from various sources, and is stored on a distributed file system, then you should go for a big data analytics tool. This tool can process historical data as well as data coming from real-time sources. Since it focuses on how and why questions such as how and why you should increase production, big data solutions can be used for forecasting, predictive analytics, identifying trends, and implementing new strategies.

The question now is: Which specific tool is right for your business? To start your search, head over to our business intelligence and big data software pages. There you’ll find a sortable list of products, software reviews from verified users, and comprehensive buyers guides.

If you wish to narrow down your search to only the most popular and highest-rated solutions, visit Capterra’s Shortlist report for the top business intelligence tools, based on an analysis of thousands of user reviews.


Looking for Business Intelligence software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Business Intelligence software solutions.

About the Author

Preksha Buttan

Preksha Buttan

Preksha Buttan is a Writer at Capterra. She provides expert insights and helps small businesses identify the right software for their needs by analyzing user reviews for the highest rated products in relevant software categories. She has previously written and published content for the medical and automotive industries. Her interest lies in marketing and branding. When she’s not working, she can be found watching a thriller.

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