Data Visualization Vs. Business Intelligence Explained

You must have noticed that businesses always stay at top because of the knowledge and information they have about their field. For instance, some companies collect call and data transfer information, some will collect info about sales and stocking, and some would have concerns with collecting actuarial information. And getting all this information would definitely be costly, but don’t think that they earn nothing in return, of course, they do. Because they work with the operations to keep their bundles of information balanced, like; Data Visualization and Business Intelligence. 

The data that companies are collecting on a daily basis is enormous. The Piling up of this data is causing difficulties in processing it. As that data is in different formats, companies are introducing innovative tools and software that will help in processing and monetizing that data. And that’s the part where data visualization vs. business intelligence comes on board.

The one main thing that differentiates Data Visualization from Business Intelligence is that, in data visualization data is converted into graphs, patterns, or charts, etc., whereas in business intelligence the data is gathered and organized into spreadsheets, dashboards, etc.

What is Data Visualization?

Data visualization basically represents the information in an easier form that will be easy to learn and understand. Like, graphs, images, movies, charts, and tables are easy to remember and they convey the information easily and effectively. It is actually the process of providing visuals to the data.

 It can also be a way to interact with the client to understand insights and trends by visualizing the data. Humans depend completely on their eyesight and our eyes are attracted by graphics and visuals instantly as compared to length paragraphs. And in this way data visualization seems natural to the human eye and hence the convenience. Commonly used types of data visualization are:

  • Bar Charts
  • Pie Charts
  • Line Graph
  • Histogram
  • Radar Charts
  • Scatter Charts
  • Maps
  • Funnel Charts

What is the Role of Data Visualization?

Data visualization is a quick way of conveying information. Once you have the required business data, it will help in the reporting of this data through visuals. This reported data can be used in three ways by the business users:

  1. Dashboards

It is a single page of measure of organizational performance (key metrics) represented with the help of charts, tables, and colors which enables the user to identify the domain which requires his focus/ attention. This identification can cause the formation of more dashboards or reports.

  1. Reports

It is a list of transactions that happened within certain ranges of time, in a certain location.  

  1. Alerts

These are single key metrics that are provided to the users. It explains the performance of events that took place recently and helps the user in taking action about improving or changing details.

What are the Tools for Data Visualization?

Many tools are available in the market for data visualization . The following tools are based on popularity, free services, and packages. One should go for that tool that matches the scope of his organization.  

  • Looker
  • Zoho Analytics
  • Tableau
  • QlikView
  • Microsoft Power BI
  • Google Data Studio
  • D3.JS
  • Dygraphs
  • Chartist.js
  • Gleam
  • Leather
  • Matplotlib

Highly Recommended Article: Top 5 Factors to Consider when Selecting the Right Data Visualization Tool

What is Business Intelligence?

Unlike data visualization, business intelligence deals with input. Its main concern is to organize, recognize, and gather patterns from the information gathered by the company. This software application analyzes the data and provides an opportunity for the organization to make effective decisions by offering a smart way of sorting and reviewing data. Through data analysis, defines the trend of the data that helps in data reporting and enables the organization to reduce its cost factor and find innovative opportunities. Commonly used types are:

  • Spreadsheets
  • Data mining
  • Data warehouse
  • Reporting and querying software
  • Online analytical processing 
  • Digital dashboards
  • Business activity monitoring
  • Local information systems
  • Data cleansing

What is the Role of Business Intelligence?

Through business intelligence, companies can convert business data into a vision and then take suitable actions for organizational development. These visions can give a direction to the organization’s goals by helping in making better decisions for their business and can increase the productivity of the organization. The main roles of Business Intelligence according to different companies are:

  1. Better Planning

Business Intelligence helps in the fast reporting of data. Many companies established that their planning, reporting, and analysis have been improved by using Business Intelligence software.

  1. Increased accuracy

Business Intelligence may increase the accuracy of the analysis because, in manual analysis, there are many chances of human errors. According to a survey, 56% observed an increase in accuracy by using Business Intelligence for planning and analysis

  1. Sale forecasting

Business Intelligence defines the trend of data so the future sale can be forecast or predict. Many companies believe Business Intelligence is helpful for planning. Business Intelligence needs to upgrade its features so that it could also analyze according to customer behavior.

  1. Improved pricing

Additional analysis done by Business Intelligence may help in planning/ improving the cost factors of an organization and also attract more offers helping in becoming more competitive. 

What are the tools for Business Intelligence?

For such vast services like Business Intelligence, few tools and features are not sufficient. Following are the important tools that fall under the category of Business Intelligence  

  • Board
  • Domo
  • Dundas BI
  • Microsoft Power BI
  • MicroStrategy
  • Oracle Analytics Cloud
  • Qlik
  • SAS
  • Sisense
  • Tableau
  • Tableau CRM
  • Tibco

What are the Pros and Cons of Data Visualization?

Following are the pros and cons of Data visualization

Better UnderstandingApproximate Values
Easy Conveyance of InformationBiased
Accurate AnalysisLack of Assistance
Sales AnalysisImproper Design
Events RelationshipDistraction
Data Modification
New Opportunities
Geographical Visualization

Pros of data visualization
Better UnderstandingThe major benefit of data visualization is better understanding. the graphical representation helps the user to recognize each point that could be missed out in bulky data 
Easy conveyance of informationMore understandable information is easier to share and convey to others
Accurate AnalysisAs data visualization defines the trend of data, it becomes easier to analyze the data and hence accuracy increases   
Sales analysisIt becomes easier for a common salesperson to understand the trend of data such as types of customers, their interest, etc. and to identify the factors that cause the ups and downs of sale. 
Events RelationshipBy identifying factors affecting the sales, the organization can relate its sale with the upcoming events. 
Data ModificationIt is easy to modify the data/ information when it is in visual form 
New Opportunitiesdata visualization offers such clear understanding of information that it becomes possible to identify new trends and opportunities on the basis of previous data results  
Geographical VisualizationGeographical visualization is another strong point of data visualization. data classification on the basis of locations information helps in generating new types of data. 

Cons of data visualization
Approximate ValuesAlthough Data Visualization predicts the trend accurately, they are mainly based on estimates. The visual data can sometimes lead to decisions that are not based on reality
BiasedThe first input of Data visualization is done by humans that can lead to biasedness. A person may fail to identify the core of the data and hence causes biased or inaccurate results
Lack of AssistanceIt lacks assistance. Different people may interpret the data differently that varies the actual meaning of the information. 
Improper Design issueThe Data Visualization should be accurately designed according to the data type. Improper design may lead to wrong interpretation of information
DistractionThe understanding of information in Data Visualization depends upon the understanding of the user. If the focus of the user is shifted from the main focus, then the right message of the information may be skipped by hat user

What are the Pros and Cons of Business Intelligence?

Reachable at Any Timedifferent approaches
Efficient Data Formatprivacy issue
Easily Changeable data security
Tracking of Kpisregulations
Helpful Communitiesmultiple apps
reachable at any timeWith the increase in mobile services, businesses have also used these services as a franchise. The Business Intelligence tools are also available on mobile phones that made them accessible at any time, at any place within seconds.  
Efficient data formatBusiness Intelligence has enabled the businesses to have their reports in effective ways with their interactive technology 
easily changeable In markets, every product is getting innovative day by day. There’s always a need to upgrade the information to introduce innovation in any plan. Business Intelligence software provides the facility of make changes easily in real-time
scalableMany solutions are available in Business Intelligence software for different types of problems. One can easily pick upon any solution according to the scope of his organization. There are also many subscription options that provide more developed designs.  
tracking of kpisBusiness Intelligence software enables their users to track and relate the KPIs of their organizations which ultimately helps them in improvement.
visualizationBusiness Intelligence software helps in converting large data in visual graphics that provides ease in analyzing data
helpful communitiesThere are many skilled communities that have linked themselves with Business Intelligence software that offers assistance 24/7. That makes Business Intelligence applications useful even for beginners
Different approachesJust like Data Visualization, the results of Business Intelligence software depend upon the interpretation and for different people, it varies according to their thinking approaches
Privacy issueBusiness Intelligence applications may access user’s personal information as they are required to use their personal devices. This issue makes the user’s feel uncomfortable about their privacy 
Data securityIn Business Intelligence applications, there’s a risk of hacking confidential information if your system is not properly disconnected from online forums. 
Cost As discussed earlier, Business Intelligence provides solutions to its users but majority of these solutions are not free of cost but have high prices.
RegulationsThe Business Intelligence software needs to be updated from time to time in order to prevent information from security threats. Legal action can be taken against the organization who experiences breach in data. 
Unavailability Not every company is developed with Business Intelligence. Some organizations just started to have Business Intelligence services. So, availability can be an issue
Multiple appsTo take full advantage of Business Intelligence, one may need to have multiple applications and have to invest more.


Nowadays, we, the customers live in a digitalized world where everything is available just a click away. When such facilities are available for everyone, then the competition within the market increases. For providing fast and easy services, the organization should itself have fast and easy methods of developing and planning products. And for this service, one may look at data visualization and Business Intelligence.

Data visualization is a means to interact with the data whereas Business Intelligence converts the data into graphic visuals. Data Visualization is easier to operate than Business Intelligence which requires certain skills and involves specific processes. The main focus of data visualization is on reporting of data while for Business Intelligence, the focus is on the analysis of data.

The bottom line is that, for advanced planning, Business Intelligence and data visualization go side by side. Both are equally important for data scientists and play a vital role in the success of any project. 


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Emidio Amadebai

As an IT Engineer, who is passionate about learning and sharing. I have worked and learned quite a bit from Data Engineers, Data Analysts, Business Analysts, and Key Decision Makers almost for the past 5 years. Interested in learning more about Data Science and How to leverage it for better decision-making in my business and hopefully help you do the same in yours.

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