Business Intelligence (BI) has conventionally been limited to big business; only they can afford pricey experts with specialist knowledge who can leverage BI’s value. But the rise of self-service BI tools has leveled the playing field, allowing small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to get in on the game too. And with SMBs now producing far greater volumes of data than in the past, there’s never been a better time to put BI to use in your organization. Here’s what you need to know about BI.
You’ve already got the data you need
It’s easy to underestimate the amount of data your SMB 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 of the kind of data you already have, how it’s generated, and where it’s stored. You can then start to think about using BI tools to transform that information into meaningful business insights that will inform your decision-making. No need for you to invest in time-consuming data generation from scratch!
Self-service BI tools are plentiful — and affordable
The emergence of self-service BI puts useful business analytics within reach of smaller business owners who lack the fancy-pants budgets of larger corporations. In fact, there are numerous self-service BI tools that you can use to get started in this area without even spending a dime. 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 Analytics 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, especially for the average business owner. But by taking small steps, it’s easy for anyone to get started — and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying the benefits of having data-driven, intelligence-based insights that will enable you to make better business decisions.
Most self-service BI tools come with built-in suggestions for reports that businesses commonly run and find useful. Other worthwhile statistics to explore include the percentage of your clients who cancel within a set period, website landing pages that generate the longest visits, your most profitable individual products or services, the days or months in which you generate your highest revenues, and which of your clients bring in the most revenue and profit.
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 having self-service tools available means SMBs no longer need a crazy budget to be able to afford the benefits of BI.