Traditionally, the SME/SMB have viewed Business Intelligence (BI) as too expensive and complex to implement. They have the need but are reluctant to take the plunge into the often mystical world of Business Intelligence / Data Warehouse / Data Management.
The time for SME/SMB is ripe to reap the benefits of BI to improve their top-line and bottom-line. Surveys by Gartner Research concludes this theory (http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2488616) Most of the SME/SMB’s have a lot of data but they find it very challenging to get appropriate insight and analytics from it to increase their profitability and decrease their operational expenses. The landscape for BI products has changed dramatically in the last 2-3 years. There are many powerful, affordable products in the market today that can help the SME/SMB get the biggest bang for their buck and help them be more profitable.
The big question, however, is how to assess the need for Business Intelligence? If the answer to one or more questions below is affirmative, there is a definite need for BI!
- Do you spend a lot of time creating Excel spreadsheets to import data or re-enter data and analyze it to make business decisions?
- Do you have the same data in multiple inconsistent formats that managers use for making decisions?
- You are unable to measure your business performance against your plan. Or you are not able to create a viable plan due to lack of information.
- You are not able to get your profitability analysis either customer-wise or product-wise. You are unsure if you will make a profit when you enter a deal.
- You always wanted to collaborate with all your managers, using the right information but you are unable to do so.
Deploying and Adopting BI
It is common to perform some level of data management before deploying the BI product. After all, data is the backbone of a successful BI implementation that leads to getting the right insights at the right time.
The data foundation typically spans all functions of the business to enable an integrated view of the business. This foundation is typically called the SSOT (“Single Source of Truth”). All business functions draw inference from the same data, which eliminates confusion, incorrect interpretations and data inconsistencies caused by time-lags in updates.
To get the right fit as far as BI is concerned, following questions would help with the evaluation:
- Does the BI product offer easy to navigate, easy to understand Dashboards, Reports and Analytics?
- Is the product easy to install and configure? Typically, products that work on the company intranet are easy to install and configure as all users get to access it using their browsers.
- Does the product provide collaborative features for users to interact and draw inference?
- Does the product allow easy annotations on the reports / dashboards and provide easy download and alert options?
- Does the product provide modern yet simple charts and graphs to convey the trends and insights? Overly complicated charts/graphs often lead to analysis paralysis.
The benefits of investing in BI far outweigh the cost. In this era of lower-cost BI solutions, it is imperative for SME/SMB to take the plunge into BI.
For questions or comments, please contact Eashwar (Eash) at Eashwar@cerebratein.com