There is a subtle but important difference between Knowledge and Intelligence.  As with any buzzword, the more it is used the more it loses its meaning.  Sometimes it is very important that we are deliberate in our word choice to ensure that who we are talking to is on the same page. 

For example, if someone asks for you to do something there is a big difference between answering with "yes", "yeah", and "sure". All answers technically acknowledgement of willingness to do the task but the answers indicate your level of focus while being asked as well as your interest in completing the task, both of which may indicate your level of performance on said task.


What they share in common: Both start with some sort of data from one or more sources

Where they differ: Your intentions


I enjoy reading books in order to learn about various subjects that many people would find boring or pointless, last year I finished a book called Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky which was hundreds of pages describing how salt is an essential part of the human and livestock diet and food preservation, and how this previously scare commodity shaped human history.  I read this book to gain knowledge because I was just doing it for fun. 

If I were looking to gather intelligence I may have reached for a book like Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, With Recipes by Mark Bitterman.  The description of this book indicates that it contains historical information about salt but it differs in one key way: the recipes.  This is considered a cookbook so although there is likely information overlap between the two books, one would be read and put back on the shelf only coming up in cocktail conversation, while the other would be used to make decisions such as what ingredients I need to buy at the store in order to make the recipes in the book.

My intentions of viewing this information are what make the difference between knowledge and intelligence.

Applied to business, if you understand the difference then you have a starting point for things like knowing what to look for, what questions to ask, and how to compare solutions.

Now that you understand the difference, is what you learned in this post going to be filed away in the knowledge category or are you going to use this intelligence to make decisions?

Topics: business intelligence, knowledge management, Data Collection

Devin Marsh

Written by Devin Marsh

Bintel Director of Operations