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The Difference Between BI and Reporting

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Posted on 01/26/2016

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So what inspired this topic? We are a reporting and document generation software company and a lot of people visit us after typing keywords like “reporting software,” “reporting tools,” etc. in Google and other search engines. The majority of people who come to our website find exactly what they need, which is excellent reporting software, but there are also a number of people who get on the phone with us and are looking for business intelligence (BI) or business analytics functionality instead of reporting software.

Based on this fact, I can conclude that there is often misunderstanding between what is reporting software and what is BI. While people tend to use these terms interchangeably, those two serve different purposes.

What’s the Difference Between BI and Reporting Software?

difference between BI and reporting

Both BI and reporting software help you understand your data. (Photo by fdecomite via CC license)

Reporting software is used to connect to data sources and then design a desired template for one or numerous reports so that anyone can run these reports whenever they want. Once a template is built and a report is run, the final output is what you get. Such software is often used to produce reports or documents that are somewhat static in nature.

Business intelligence software allows for drilling down into the output and is often presented in a form of dashboards. BI software connects to the same data sources in the company and transforms it into a fluid output that can be sliced and diced.

Is One Better Than the Other?

A lot of articles on the internet covering this topic come from BI software companies’ websites that, for some reason, try to compare the two solutions side by side. In fact as I mentioned earlier, the typical uses for these products are completely different, so no — one is not better than the other.

If what you are trying to accomplish requires an interface to constantly compare and analyze data and do it very well, then a BI solution is for you. Do you want to create and distribute thousands or millions of reports? You should look at a reporting solution instead.

Can BI Tools and Reporting Software Work Together?

Of course they can. We have a whole case study on how one great company that battles world hunger started with a BI solution but needed a stronger reporting capability, so they used our reporting software to get it. As a result they have created a powerful platform where they use a BI software component together with our reporting component to track, analyze and report on how farmland resources are used.

This short post is meant for a quick read and to help you understand the basics behind these two solutions. If you have any questions or need clarification, please ask below and don’t be shy.

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Author: Roman Matskiv

Roman Matskiv is a marketing enthusiast currently working on getting Windward into the Fortune 500 list. Originally from Ukraine, he came to United States in 2007 to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder. In his free time, Roman can be found running through canyons in the Utah desert, trying to catch the biggest fish in Colorado, or casually hammering on his keyboard and mouse trying to beat his opponents online.

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