Today, companies that deliberately choose to ignore business intelligence and the power of their data are not doomed to failure, but they are destined to be quickly and inevitably overtaken by newer or more adaptable businesses. Truth to be told, technology and change are inevitable. And small businesses have a particularly big advantage: they often are more adaptable than big, old corporate businesses who have to handle dozens of processes. Have you already considered how you could leverage the value of your analytics?

The Challenges of Analytics for Small Businesses & How They Can Overcome Them

Even if analytics are enticing and probably one of the best investments you can do in the long run, small businesses will still face a certain number of data challenges.

First of them is implementing a data culture, and it is not always easy at first. Onboarding everyone is key, and it is easier for smaller teams than for the workforce composed of thousands of people. If data analysis is not your cup of tea or the data overload you are facing seems scary, a dashboard designer software can make it smoother for you to consolidate your sources in one single source of truth. From there, you can perform your data analysis effortlessly, helping you understand the answers thanks to streamlined data visualizations: accessibility and simplicity are always a great advantage when implementing a new data culture.

Another challenge shared by many companies, big or small, is the data itself. Data collection and data integration can be difficult, especially because today most companies use on average at least three tools to gather data like Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics and a CRM, or any other flat file like spreadsheets. Good news is, many on-premise BI tools come in handy for the data consolidation in one centralized place, and in just a couple of clicks you can gather all your sources and work on them conjointly.

Finally, comes the argument that integrating business intelligence systems is too costly, with the need to hire data scientists on top of expensive BI solution. Good news again, analytics are not nearly as expensive as they were a couple of years ago, and you can find countless providers out there able to provide you with scalable on-premise software that will be in the end, a fraction of what it would cost you to build it internally.

What Are the Benefits of Using Business Intelligence?

First and foremost, business intelligence provides you with incredible insights that will guide you in your decision-making process. Backed up with accurate and up-to-date data, you can make better-informed decisions that will give you an advantage over other players in your industry.

It also ensures an effective communication, as your employees will not have to require specific reports to the IT department and wait for them, and ultimately work on outdated information. Real-time and accessible data is the watchword.

Besides, business intelligence helps you understand better your customers and anticipate their needs more accurately. You can thus improve your marketing campaigns, as well as the efficiency of your other business operations, in logistics and supply chain for instance. Forecasting shifts in market demand, building personalized marketing tactics and offering competitive deals are other advantages.

According to McKinsey, companies using analytics have 126% higher profits than their competitors, while a Dell study shows that businesses using data experience 50% higher revenue growth than those who aren’t. It comes to no surprise: having effective data-driven processes running across your organization definitely provides a differentiating factor. When the availability and the quality of the data are both unreliable, it becomes difficult to understand risk, and companies fail to make smarter choices to boost their bottom lines often enough.

How Do I Get There?

An advantage small businesses have over big companies is that the data they accumulate is often more structured, and has formats that are easier to crunch. This is why you should not miss the opportunity such data provides you with. Here are some steps to follow to capitalize on your information with business intelligence.

– Start small and stay agile

The humongous amount of data you have to deal with can appear highly intimidating at first – but do not let yourself overtaken by it or you will lag behind. Approach your mountains of data with a question or hypothesis in mind and use the information at hand to check if what you have formulated is correct. Approaching your data with a strategy is key to avoid accumulating too many different views on it, that will cost time and money, as well as cause no small amount of stress.

Being agile is one of the asset of small businesses: unlike big corporations, who might have more resources accessible, you will not need five different official approvals before making a decision… and that is a great news knowing that the real-time data you are working with enables you to quickly change your strategy if you realize that you are following the wrong goal. Identify emerging trends and act on your insights straight away, that’s where you get the competitive

– Foster collaboration and create the right dashboard culture

BI software let you access your information online from anywhere and at any time, and run complex queries on your own without needing dedicated IT support: that is the ideal tool for small businesses where every employee wears several hats. Indeed, different members of a team are empowered to access the same data from different places, work on it and decide and act on it together. As the workplace is evolving and remote-working is more and more important, being equipped with the right tools to ensure the smoothest operations is key. If you do not have the right infrastructure to answer this trend, it can quickly burden cooperation and productivity.

At the same time, you make sure to involve all your team, think about fostering a dashboard culture: it will help you greatly in communicating insights across your organization. Besides, it shows how data analysis is actually paying off. Mobilizing all the brains to use and share data will contribute to the greater good in achieving goals.

– Secure your data

Being effective and increasing your productivity is good but ensuring that your data is safe and secure is also critical. Most of BI tools providers offer to move part or all of your business data to their secured data storage facility. That’s true – thinking of sensitive data being stored in cloud-based warehouses sounds eerie. But more and more people and businesses are turning to cloud solutions, as these are managed by professional IT workers and are watched 24/7. Besides, if you lose a laptop with confidential data, backup and recovery are no longer a concern, since such data is hosted in the cloud.

Making the Most Out of Business Intelligence

Small businesses have many advantages over big corporations and leveraging BI capabilities might be their strongest asset. The proof lays in all the success stories we hear about every day, of small companies booming more than ever before. Equipped with the right business analytics, these small businesses have the possibility to improve their cost efficiency and business processes.

Mona Lebied
Content Manager at datapine

Mona is a passionate writer about data analytics and innovative business reporting techniques. She is working as Content Manager for datapine, in the bustling startup landscape of Berlin, Germany.

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