Only a couple of years ago business intelligence (BI) was an exclusive privilege reserved for big companies who had enough budget to hire data engineers, IT specialists, consultants and building data centres.
Well, times have changed, and today a small and medium-sized business can enjoy a multitude of analytical solutions.
Business Intelligence (BI)
Any company, even a small one, produces crazy amounts of data. Sales figures, customer information, departmental expenditures and so on. Every single business transaction generates more numbers, figures, graphs…data!
Business Intelligence (BI) is the process of harnessing this pool of internal data. Its purpose is to enable the decision-making process through the rationale of data and base your business growth on facts. Combined with external market forecasts, BI will help small companies to make evidence-based choices on how to allocate resources for their desired outcomes.
There is a large number of BI tools available on the market for small and medium-sized businesses. Affordable software solutions have made data gathering, analysing and reporting accessible to smaller businesses and aren’t reserved for exclusive enterprises anymore. These insights can give you a look at the issues that might have been overwise overlooked and can help predict potential future scenarios.
Why use BI tools?
Companies often use BI tools to do a number of different calculations, however, the most common reason to use BI is to calculate the profitability of a business, VPC, track various customer navigation paths, review customer service, and so on.
Generally, BI tools are used to track business performance. And because performance means something else to everybody, all BI tools are different. For instance, some businesses will track their purchases through traffic to their site, while others will count the real footfall of their shop. Others will calculate manufacturing and sales and so on. Because of this variety, BI can be devised into following areas:
- Analysing existing customer behaviours, buying patterns and sales trends
- Measuring, tracking and predicting sales and financial performance
- Budgeting, financial planning and forecasting
- Tracking the performance of marketing campaigns
- Optimising processes and operational performance
- Improving delivery and supply chain effectiveness
- Web, social media and e-commerce analytics
- Customer relationship management
- Risk analysis
Choosing your own BI
Before looking for a Business Intelligence system, it’s essential to outline your business needs first. This step shouldn’t be any different than what Big Businesses do. You need to outline what success means for your business, what performance means to you and everything that is important to your business.
Next, consider who will use that information in your business. Involve managers in the process of considering these insights and get staff representatives to familiarise themselves with the data you are going to be using.
Deciding on who will use the data, how it will be used and how it will be indexed is the next step. Your IT systems should integrate to make this process easier for you.
Investigate available software
BI is only as good as the data you input to it. There are numerous Business Intelligence software available for small and medium-sized companies.
There are various BI programs join together various other programs that most of the businesses are using.
For basic BI software, many use the classic Excel spreadsheets or relational databases. They enable you to generate various reports with charts and graphs. However, integration with other software might be limited if you are not familiar with certain coding languages.
Additionally, some basic BI programs can be great or a particularly small business, or when starting off. But once your business is growing, or once you have more than 10 employees progressing to a specialised software can help to further your business performance in every way.
BI Software for Business
If you are ready to progress to a more sophisticated intelligence program, look into some paid options that will do what your business requires. For example, if you are looking to improve your business strategy and use financial planning to further your business ProForecast offers integration to your financial software and can run complicated financial planning models to enable you to stress test your business finances.
Every moment of your business life produces data that can be used to give your business edge against your competition. Don’t miss the opportunity to capitalise on it!