If you’ve managed to convince yourself that only large enterprises have the money to take advantage of Business Intelligence (BI), it’s time to think again. While it’s true that in the past you needed the help of pricey specialists to really delve into BI, these days a range of self-service tools mean that small- and medium-sized businesses can do much more by themselves. You probably create and hold much more data than you realize, too – all of which means now’s the time to make a start.
Here’s some truth’s about some false beliefs you probably have about BI and your small business.
You’ve already got the data you need
It’s easy to underestimate the amount of data your small- or medium-sized business already has at its disposal. In every area of your business from finance and sales to customer relations and website management, the software packages you use to simplify your everyday operations are packed with reams of information that most of us don’t even think twice about. By talking to key stakeholders in your organization’s various departments, you can get an idea for the kind of data you already have, how it’s generated, and where it’s stored. You’re then in a good place to begin thinking about using BI tools to transform that information into meaningful business insights that inform key decision-making – all while reducing the resources you need to invest in time-consuming data generation from scratch.
The real beauty of the emergence of self-service BI is that it puts useful business analytics within reach of smaller business owners who lack the fancy-pants budgets of larger corporations. In fact, there are numerous inexpensive self-service BI tools that you can use to get started. Microsoft Power BI is a powerful application that’s pleasingly user-friendly, and most businesses will find the functions they need in the free version. Zoho Reports has a low entry-level cost, too, and the slightly pricier yet still affordable Tableau is another option that’s worth exploring.
It’s easy to get started
BI is an intimidating term, and just the thought of delving into it can send a shiver down the spine of the average business owner. But by taking small steps, it’s easy to get started – and before you know it you’ll have the benefit of real-intelligence-based business insights that enable you to make better decisions for your organization’s long-term success. Most self-service BI tools come with built-in suggestions for reports that businesses commonly run and find useful. Truly harnessing data is the future of the business world – it’s how companies like yours can make smarter decisions that increase efficiency and profitability. And self-service tools mean smaller organizations no longer need a crazy budget to be able to afford the benefits of BI in the first place.
Bob Milliken is the TheITGuy@CascadiaSystemsGroup.com and specializes in helping businesses with their IT needs. Connect with him at 604.270.1730