In the past, business Intelligence efforts have been pursued by large organizations with vast resources and cutting-edge technologies. Businesses big and small can benefit greatly from analyzing their business data to aid informed decision-making thus drive growth and profitability. Business Intelligence can help companies with easy interpretation of big data, deliver actionable insights to end users and facilitate informed decision-making.

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence is an umbrella term that includes applications, infrastructure and tools and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to enhance decisions and performance across the enterprise. In simple words, it is a system which tells ‘what has happened’ or ‘is happening right now’ in a business. A good BI platform describes this in real time in a granular, accurate and presentable form.

Benefits of BI to SMEs

There are a number of cost-effective BI software alternatives for SMEs which have similar information needs as large organizations but limited human & financial resources. BI tools bring a host of advantages to SMEs:

  • Quicker answers to critical business queries.
  • Extraction of relevant data from unstructured data pools, then running them through analytical tools, and then using the results for business decision making.
  • Empowers employees to become decision-makers, which works great for companies with low human resources.
  • Automation saves time on manual entry & tasks that are prone to human error.
  • Reduced time spent on repetitive, boring tasks, and increased time spent on tasks requiring creativity and critical thinking.
  • Provides more accurate client profiles.
  • Customer data collection through various online channels, allowing identification of target market in the most efficient way to boost sales and therefore increase profit.
  • Reduced operational costs without resorting to elaborate austerity measures.
  • Improved budget planning and fund allocation.
  • Early identification of industry trends that helps in getting ahead of competition.
  • Tracking customer satisfaction, profitability, sales, and growth revenue in real-time.
  • Data is presented in a format that is easier to comprehend.
  • Easier exporting and sharing of data facilitates easier cooperation and collaboration.

Latest Trends in BI

Current industry trends show that adoption of BI in organizations is on the rise with the wider availability of BI software as well as the development of advanced solutions to handle big data. Many business processes are already becoming automated, such as sending newsletters to customers, creating weekly sales reports, and gathering social media feedback. As a result, productivity and efficiency are increased, allowing SMEs to gain a stronger foothold in the market. The following trends give us an idea as to what the future will be like for businesses of all sizes:

  • Scope for greater customization, enabling even the average user to crunch numbers and gain insights from analysis of business data.
  • Visualization of Data will allow users to understand figures and other BI content at a glance.
  • Cloud computing, including big data and BI analysis, will be more widely adopted throughout various fields.
  • Greater usage in fields like financial analytics; SEO and web analytics; ICT management; human resources; and sales, marketing, and CRM.

How to select BI tools for SMEs

Today BI tools are being used to calculate the profitability of millions of individual customers daily, track the navigation path of every visitor to a Website, identify fraudulent activity for thousands of transactions in real time, and provide service reps a 360-degree view of customer activity in near real time. BI is increasingly going mobile which is a more prevalent and practical platform for SMEs than traditional desktops/laptops. Here are some pointers on how to choose a BI solution that fits your company’s needs:

  • Easy to learn and use even without programming knowledge.
  • Customized dashboards and ad hoc reporting should be present.
  • Should come with a built-in analytics function for studying profitability and trends.
  • Should facilitate the creation of appealing visual data representations that let users understand analysis results quickly and easily.
  • Should be connected to cloud-based data storage so that data can be accessed from wherever there is a reliable internet access.
  • Compare options in terms of price, features, and ease of use and pick one that suits your company’s budget and needs.

SMEs are often hesitant to use BI solutions as they think they are just a small company with no real need and no budget for BI tools. The benefits to be gained combined with the reduced cost of the infrastructure and the short time horizon for tangible pay-back makes BI tools great for SMEs.