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The differences between Business intelligence (BI) and Information Distribution (ID)

In an era where an increasing number of individuals require data for decision-making, both professionally and personally, the significance of information distribution is on the rise. However, differentiating it from Business Intelligence (BI) can be unclear. While information distribution and BI share common ground in the data and analytics domain, they serve distinct purposes. Here are the key distinctions between information distribution and BI:

1. Purpose:

– Information Distribution (ID): Primarily focuses on delivering data and insights to end-users or stakeholders. The main goal is to disseminate relevant information efficiently and in an easily accessible and understandable manner.
– Business Intelligence (BI): Encompasses a broader set of processes, technologies, and tools aimed at collecting, preparing, analyzing, and presenting business data to support decision-making.

2. Scale:

– Information Distribution (ID): Information distribution technologies are finely tuned to efficiently scale document generation, personalization, and distribution across a spectrum ranging from just a few users to potentially thousands or even millions. Their design is strategically focused on minimizing compute and concurrency costs, ensuring a cost-effective scaling process aligned with the expanding user base.
– Business Intelligence (BI): Business Intelligence systems are specifically fine-tuned for efficient data exploration and analysis. Consequently, as the user base expands, there is an increased strain on system resources, demanding additional hardware and processing power. This escalation poses a notable challenge, particularly when scaling beyond 1000 users.

3. Scope:

– Information Distribution (ID): Primarily concerned with the delivery and sharing of data and reports to a wide audience. This can take many forms – from financial and billing statements, to operational reports and dashboards in large enterprises, to marketing infographics and visualizations, to digital circulars, and much more.
– Business Intelligence (BI): Encompasses a comprehensive approach to data analysis, including data modeling, extraction, transformation, loading (ETL), reporting, and interactive dashboards.

4. Focus on Action:

– Information Distribution (ID): Often emphasizes delivering a variety of documents to inform stakeholders to be able to make quickly fact-based decisions without the need for advanced analysis that require special training and tools.
– Business Intelligence (BI): Goes beyond distribution by providing tools for users to perform ad-hoc queries and gain deeper understanding of the underlying data. BI often supports a wide variety of configurable analytic functions for robust data analysis.

5. Tailored Information vs Free Exploration

– Information Distribution (ID): The distributed documents are meticulously customized to meet the specific requirements of the intended information consumers. Each element, including the data, analytics, interactive features, and document layout, is thoughtfully selected during the design process to ensure that the report is easily accessible and consumable.
– Business Intelligence (BI): Offers users tools for comprehensive data exploration and analysis, aiding every stage of data preparation and analytics. The results of this data analysis can then serve as the basis for the specifications of the reports to be distributed. The decision on whether to distribute a report through the BI or the ID systems hinges on considerations of scale and document design/branding requirements.

6. Interactivity:

– Information Distribution (ID): Typically encompasses the distribution of reports or documents on a periodic basis. Traditionally, these reports were distributed in the form of static PDFs (portable document format). In contemporary practices, HTML portable documents (HPDF) offer equivalent interactive capabilities as seen in BI. However, it’s important to note that the interactivity and analytical features are confined to the data encapsulated within the document.
– Business Intelligence (BI): Provides interactive features, empowering users to delve into data, apply filters, and conduct exploratory analysis to address specific questions within extensive data repositories. It’s essential to note that users need to maintain a real-time connection to these data sources throughout the analysis period.

7. Decision Support:

– Information Distribution (ID): Can function both as a communication and awareness tool and as a decision support tool, especially when implemented as an HTML Portable Document Format (HPDF). HPDFs enable fact-based decision-making through tailored interactive documents.
– Business Intelligence (BI): Is designed only to support decision-making by providing actionable insights and facilitating data-driven decision processes.

8. Tool Scope and Complexity:

– Information Distribution (ID): Involves simpler tools focused on design, layout, data interactivity for delivering highly styled,data-rich documents, reports, presentations, etc.. Leverage familiar presentation design workflows.
– Business Intelligence (BI): Involves sophisticated tools that cover a broader spectrum of data-related activities, from data preparation to advanced analytics and thus are harder to learn.

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Dr. Rado

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