Business Analyst vs Business Intelligence Analyst: Differences

Diana Ipacs

April 18, 2024

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What does a Business Analyst do? And a Business Intelligence Analyst? Let's compare responsibilities, skills, career prospects, and more. FAQs included!


Business Analysts and Business Intelligence Analysts both work with data and business processes, but their primary focuses are distinct. So what does the difference boil down to?

Business Analysts are primarily concerned with understanding business needs, identifying gaps or opportunities, and proposing solutions to improve organizational performance. They employ a range of methods, including basic data analysis, to derive their insights and often act as a liaison between business stakeholders and technology teams.

On the other hand, Business Intelligence Analysts leverage their technical skills to gather, clean, and analyze data for the sole purpose of helping the organization make informed decisions. They use tools like SQL and data visualization software to offer actionable insights, usually in the form of reports or dashboards.

While both roles are crucial in an organization that values data-driven decision-making, Business Analysts often serve as the link between business needs and available solutions. Business Intelligence Analysts focus on providing the data that informs those solutions.

Now that we've outlined the basics, let's explore each role in depth, covering their responsibilities, essential skills, career trajectories, and more!

Business Analyst vs Business Intelligence Analyst – Bluebird Blog

Business Analysts and Business Intelligence Analysts: Key Differences

Business Analyst

Business Intelligence Analyst

Scope and Objectives

Solve immediate or short-term issues with actionable solutions

Long-term objectives and broader business strategies


Use interviews and surveys for root cause analyses

Use large datasets and specialized tools for in-depth analysis

Communication and Stakeholder Interaction

Bridge between business and technical teams

Primarily communicate findings to business stakeholders


Produce actionable recommendations; may be involved in implementation

Produce reports, dashboards, and visualizations for strategic planning

Data Use

Work with both qualitative and quantitative data

Focus primarily on quantitative data

Tools and Technologies

Excel, SQL, specialized software for basic data analysis

Tableau, Power BI, specialized BI software

In some smaller organizations, these roles may be combined: individuals might wear "multiple hats," performing tasks commonly associated with both roles. However, in larger organizations, the roles are likely to be distinct, each with its own set of specialized responsibilities.

What Skills Does a Business Analyst Need?

Business Analysts will need a foundational IT/tech affinity alongside business knowledge. Of course, the specific tools and technologies required will depend on the company and project in question. However, there are certain tools BAs must know comprehensively for a successful long-term career: for example, the use of Microsoft Excel remains widespread, so advanced proficiency can be important here. Additionally, various data visualization software like Power BI and Tableau are becoming increasingly popular.

For many business analyst positions, SQL knowledge is expected: the candidate should be able to write and interpret queries and understand table structures. In addition to that, skills in various process and project management tools (e.g., MS Project, Jira) are often a must, especially in positions that are closely related to IT and system analysis. These may involve data analysis and necessitate some programming skills (Python, R).

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Richard Patyi | LinkedIn

Business Analyst

Richard Patyi profile

Business Analyst vs Business Intelligence Analyst: Required Skills & Skill Differences

Data and Analytical Skills

Analytical and data handling skills are fundamental for both Business Analysts and Business Intelligence Analysts. That being said, the depth and nature of these skills differ for the two roles.

  1. 1
    Business Analysts mostly focus on basic data manipulation and root cause analysis. They often use tools like Excel and SQL to gather and analyze data. Although they don't usually require advanced statistical skills, their role calls for a knack for identifying immediate business challenges and proposing practical solutions.
  2. 2
    Business Intelligence Analysts, on the other hand, are responsible for advanced aspects of data analytics. They use specialized Business Intelligence tools such as Tableau or Power BI to perform in-depth analysis. Their work involves statistical analysis and data modeling, as they aim to derive strategic insights from large datasets.

Communication Skills and Business Understanding

  1. 1
    Business Analysts often serve as a bridge between business and technical teams. They need strong communication skills to translate business needs into technical requirements and vice versa. If you're a BA, understanding the operational aspects of a business is crucial—otherwise, you wouldn't be able to pinpoint the areas that need to be improved.
  2. 2
    Business Intelligence Analysts focus more on relaying complex data findings to business stakeholders. While they also need an understanding of business operations, their role is skewed towards grasping broader business strategies and long-term goals.

Collaboration Skills and Problem-Solving

  1. 1
    Business Analysts are generally involved in cross-departmental collaboration. They might even have some experience in managing projects from a business standpoint. Their approach to problem-solving is more tactical and focuses on immediate challenges.
  2. 2
    Business Intelligence Analysts usually work within specialized units but also engage in cross-functional collaboration to gather data. Their problem-solving approach is more aligned with strategic objectives, often requiring the use of specialized tools and techniques for long-term planning.

Business Analyst vs Business Intelligence Analyst: Responsibilities

Business Analyst Responsibilities

Understanding Market Needs and Feature Development

Business Analysts begin by interviewing potential users and stakeholders to comprehend their requirements. They focus on shaping features and algorithms that would best meet those needs.

Data Analysis and Reporting

They gather user feedback and other data to identify ways to simplify processes like loan applications. This analysis is then translated into specific tasks for the development team.

Team Communication and Coordination

Business Analysts regularly meet with development teams and other stakeholders to make sure that new features and improvements align with user needs and are correctly implemented.

Decision-making Support

Using insights from data and user feedback, Business Analysts assist in guiding the decision-making processes within the organization, usually focusing on immediate needs and problem-solving.

Business Analyst Task Examples

  • Conduct interviews to gather user requirements and understand their needs.

  • Analyze user feedback to pinpoint areas for improvement in the lending process.

  • Keep contact between developers and stakeholders.

  • Assist in immediate decision-making: present actionable, data-driven insights.

Differences Between BA Positions

The differences between two Business Analyst positions can be vast, depending on the company’s structure, industry, or the product itself. The role itself is a hybrid of different fields, so it can be (and often is) viewed as an umbrella term.

For instance, a significant variance exists in whether a BA represents the business side or comes from an IT background in a given project. In larger projects, this also leads to multiple business analysts working together, dividing tasks by competency and using their diverse backgrounds to operate efficiently at the project level, potentially without daily stakeholder involvement.

This is beneficial, for example, in a banking project where loan specialists must also handle customer interactions and are only available in limited hours, while developers might have other tasks and are less productive if they spend their time in business meetings. This is where BAs step into the limelight.

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Richard Patyi | LinkedIn

Business Analyst

Richard Patyi profile

Business Intelligence Analyst Responsibilities

Long-Term Strategy and Data Analytics

Business Intelligence Analysts start their work by running queries on long-term market trends and competitor performance. They use this data to inform the organization's long-term strategies.

Data Visualization and Risk Assessment

They employ specialized tools like Tableau to create dashboards that illustrate how various economic trends could affect business outcomes such as loan repayments.

Executive Communication

These analysts prepare presentations and reports aimed at high-level executives to illustrate the long-term viability and risks associated with the platform.

Data-driven Decision Support

With an emphasis on long-term impact, Business Intelligence Analysts offer insights based on comprehensive data analysis, assisting executive decision-making processes.

Business Intelligence Analyst Task Examples

  • Run queries to analyze long-term market trends and competitor rates.

  • Develop data dashboards that represent potential economic impacts on the platform.

  • Prepare strategic reports for executive leadership.

  • Offer long-term strategic recommendations based on in-depth data analysis.

The specific roles and responsibilities for Business Analysts and Business Intelligence Analysts can and will vary by organization, size, and industry. Keep in mind that this is intended as a general guide, applicable in a wide range of scenarios, but not in every case.

Business Analyst vs Business Intelligence Analyst in a Fintech Project

To gain insights into the contributions of Business Analysts and Business Intelligence Analysts in a real-world project, let's explore some of their responsibilities during the creation of a hypothetical Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending platform.

Task-Based Market Analysis

A Business Analyst would likely begin by conducting interviews with potential users to understand their lending needs, aiming to shape loan application features and risk assessment algorithms.

In contrast, a Business Intelligence Analyst would initiate their day by running queries on competitor lending rates and borrower default history, using these insights to inform long-term business strategy.

Data Processing and Reporting

The Business Analyst would use Excel to collate feedback from user experience tests, aiming to simplify the loan application process. They'd translate these findings into actionable tasks for the development team.

The Business Intelligence Analyst would utilize specialized tools like Tableau to develop dashboards showing how economic trends could impact loan repayments, aiming to influence the platform's risk assessment algorithms.

Stakeholder Communication

The Business Analyst would frequently meet with the development team to ensure that features like simplified loan applications are being correctly implemented based on user feedback.

Meanwhile, the Business Intelligence Analyst would prepare a presentation for the executive team, illustrating the long-term sustainability of the platform under varying economic conditions.

In this P2P lending platform project, the Business Analyst focuses on immediate market needs and feature development, while the Business Intelligence Analyst prioritizes long-term strategy and data-driven insights.

BAs as a Bridge

Ideally, a business analyst serves as a bridge between various stakeholders. They understand both business needs and opportunities as well as development perspectives. BAs strive to synthesize these in order to incentivize all parties in the collaboration.

Software development is not an end in itself but serves to fulfill business, legal, or operational optimization needs. BAs need to communicate this effectively and essentially "sell" the development to stakeholders. They can do that by involving them tightly in the planning and processes and highlighting the positive outcomes and results of the development endeavors.

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Richard Patyi | LinkedIn

Business Analyst

Richard Patyi profile

Business Analyst vs Business Intelligence Analyst: Career Trajectories

Career Trajectory for a Business Analyst

  1. 1
    Entry-Level / Junior Business Analyst: This is the starting point on your path, usually involving tasks like data collection and basic analysis. You may assist in requirement gathering and documentation.
  2. 2
    Business Analyst: With some experience, you take on deeper analytical tasks, develop business solutions, and consult with stakeholders to understand their needs.
  3. 3
    Senior Business Analyst: In this role, you lead specific projects, mentor junior staff, and coordinate between business and technical teams for solution implementation.
  4. 4
    Lead Business Analyst / Business Analysis Manager: You manage multiple business analysis projects or lead a team of analysts, often interfacing with senior management to shape business strategies.

Career Trajectory for a Business Intelligence Analyst

  1. 1
    Entry-Level / Junior Business Intelligence Analyst: You start with basic data analytics tasks, often using specialized tools to create initial reports and dashboards.
  2. 2
    Business Intelligence Analyst: With experience, you'll focus on more complex data analysis, create detailed business reports, and start influencing long-term strategic decisions.
  3. 3
    Senior Business Intelligence Analyst: At this level, you're responsible for guiding data analytics projects, mentoring junior analysts, and making recommendations for business strategy based on data insights.
  4. 4
    Lead Business Intelligence Analyst / BI Manager: You oversee multiple BI initiatives or a team of Business Intelligence Analysts. You play a significant role in shaping organizational strategy through data insights.

Business Analyst Vs Business Intelligence Analyst: FAQs

What educational background is generally required for these roles?

A bachelor's degree in business, finance, or a related field is common for both. However, Business Intelligence Analysts may benefit more from additional courses in data analytics or statistics.

What skill sets are uniquely important for each role?

Business Analysts need strong communication and project management skills to act as a liaison between business and tech teams. Business Intelligence Analysts require deeper expertise in data modeling and statistical analysis.

Is software proficiency equally critical for both?

Both roles require familiarity with software tools, but Business Intelligence Analysts often need more advanced capabilities in Business Intelligence tools like Tableau or Power BI.

Business analyst vs business intelligence salary: What to expect in terms of salary?

Both roles are well-compensated, particularly in the Fintech sector. Business Intelligence Analysts may command higher salaries due to their specialized skill set in data analytics and strategic planning.

How do career advancement opportunities compare?

Both can advance to senior positions, but Business Analysts may have more opportunities to move into business-focused leadership roles. Business Intelligence Analysts might lean more towards data science or analytics leadership positions.

Is industry-specific knowledge more important for one role?

Industry-specific knowledge can be valuable for both, but Business Analysts might require a more intimate understanding of customer needs and behaviors in the industry they are working in.

 Which role is more likely to interact with stakeholders or executives?

Business Analysts are generally more client-facing, often responsible for gathering requirements and presenting solutions. Business Intelligence Analysts, although less client-facing, do present strategic insights to higher-level executives.

How do the roles collaborate with other teams?

Business Analysts often work closely with development and product teams to implement features. Business Intelligence Analysts may collaborate more with finance and strategy departments.

Who is more involved in risk assessment?

While both roles engage in risk assessment, Business Intelligence Analysts often undertake more comprehensive risk analyses that influence long-term strategies.

We hope you enjoyed our article on the differences between the role of a Business Analyst and that of a Business Intelligence Analyst.

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