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Defining the Difference: Business Intelligence, Process Intelligence and Analytics

Blog: Kofax - Smart Process automation

BI_PI_Analytics_WhatHowWhy (1)A simple way to differentiate 3 common business terms.

The language of business is ever-evolving, with terminology and concepts becoming more nuanced over time. In this post, we’ll explain three current terms that can be heard in boardrooms worldwide:

The late 1990s saw the beginning of formalized business intelligence tools that could extract and organize business information faster and more accurate than manual aggregation. As capabilities to interpret this data increased, the concept of business analytics gained popularity, resulting in some confusion about potential crossover to business intelligence. Recently, process intelligence emerged as the next innovation when an organization is seeking the complete real-time picture of any given business process.

Although there are differences in the ways companies define these terms and view their interconnection, at their core they each contribute a key component of actionable intelligence:

Business Intelligence – Capturing the What

Although “business intelligence” is often used when describing specific applications or platforms, in a wider sense the term simply refers to any data which is relevant to your business and can be reliably accessed and captured for further analysis. Business intelligence provides information about specific moments in time using a variety of tools. Whether housed in a spreadsheet or a robust platform solution, the specific format of business intelligence is secondary; what’s most important is that the data is:


Process Intelligence – Examining the How

Whereas business intelligence shows you what’s happening so you can spot trends and improve forecasting, process intelligence reveals how tasks and processes are being executed. This knowledge can be critical – not just for spotting efficiency gaps but for maintaining regulatory compliance. Using process intelligence, companies can spot where steps in the process are:



Although business intelligence can include the data a business would need to understand and improve their processes, it can be time- and resource-intensive to gather and interpret those data points. Instead, there are ready-made solutions designed to provide real-time process intelligence to help businesses reduce waste and maintain compliance.

Analytics – Deducing the Why

While business intelligence and process intelligence can tell you what is happening and how, the application of analytics strives to resolve “whys” like:

When these types of questions are answered based on accurate data, it’s much easier to make informed decisions that minimize risk while maximizing opportunities.


Although it’s unlikely there will be full consensus on the definitions of business intelligence, process intelligence and analytics anytime soon, we think “what, how, and why” is an easy and memorable way to differentiate them.

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