Until fairly recently, business intelligence (BI) was exclusively utilized by large enterprise organizations with large budgets and serious data-analysis capabilities. Thanks in large part to the cloud computing revolution, powerful BI capabilities are now available to virtually any business regardless of size allowing small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to gain powerful insight without the deepest pockets.
Business intelligence enables the transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business purposes.
Raw data can be gathered from many sources and be put to many uses. for example, a business could align and compare customer profiles, sales history and transaction data to improve customer service, boost sales and tighten the sales cycle.
Business intelligence offers two primary benefits to SMBs:
Better insight and management of operations now
Better projections and planning for the future future
Even the simplest BI will uncover useful trends and cross-selling opportunities that translate to positive revenue opportunities and growth. Data in its raw form can be overwhelming and one dimensional but with a few BI analysis tools, insightful patterns surface and plans for optimization result.
Many businesses focus their BI efforts on sales and finance data for its abundance of clean, more organized data and the high-value target for ROI. However, there is much to be gained from insights available from inventory, purchasing, manufacturing, and customer service data too. The focus of each organization will be the compass to guide what data is most important.
BI offers much broader potential benefits as well. BI is organized like accountancy but useful for decision makers at every level of an organization's structure. BI allows employees to see the organization's efficiency outlined in one unified format that makes perfect sense in a specific area. This makes BI essentially important to measure the effectiveness of any business in any industry.
Because resources are so important, SMBs typically prefer cloud solutions that require minimal IT involvement and offer self-service capabilities that allow them to access, integrate, explore, and analyze their data. A cloud-based BI solution is a great starting point for SMBs because it provides a simple way to implement without major IT investment, keeping costs low but seeing meaningful benefits quickly.
With all the recent technological advancements in the areas of cloud and big data, the only true requirement for a business to launch a BI program is a fast, reliable internet connection. With this and a web-based BI, a few of the many benefits include instantaneous access to data, convenience to analyze anywhere, and a higher comfort level that comes from working with the familiar form factor of a web browser.
The bottom line for SMBs comes down to focusing efforts on the areas promising the greatest return. Historically the recipe for growth starts with analyzing BI data on the most valuable customer information, such as past purchase history and behavior. The next step is to act on those BI insights by engaging in personalized data exchange with customers to gain understanding as to why they are loyal customers and to uncover opportunities to attract new prospects and convert them into loyal customers, too.
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