Business intelligence for small companies is an issue that’s often left out. Many business owners think that AI and business intelligence are tools destined exclusively for large corporations, with equally large budgets. And the truth is, primarily big firms implement BI solutions into their business. However, by no means, this niche is closed for SMEs (Small Medium-sized Enterprises)! And this article will prove it. Let’s see what BI can do for small businesses.
Before we start with our main subject, let’s think for a few minutes, how is business intelligence used? This is a question that comes back on our blog on many occasions. In one of our Business Intelligence Analyst – Job Descriptionprevious articles, we wrote that business intelligence combines and analyzes big data and helps your company to turn it into useful business-wise knowledge.
So, it’s the amount of data you possess that matters, not the size of your establishment!
Take the example of an eCommerce company. Online stores usually operate on data derived from hundreds of consumers and companies. This data can be used in many beneficial ways, for instance, to predict sales level in the coming month or year. And it doesn’t matter if you have two or twenty employees. Moreover, you don’t need any business intelligence staff in your company.
In the times of outsourcing, companies like Addepto not only provide you with tools and services to implement business intelligence for small companies but also have a team of experienced professionals, willing to assist you with the implementation of your project.
You may also find it interesting – business intelligence best practices.
Business Intelligence Features
We can indicate at least five crucial business intelligence features. Every SME can benefit from them in their daily work and development. Take a look at our list:
- What-If Analysis (uses past data to predict an outcome of a given decision or adjustment)
- Operational reports (they let you easily view the best and worst-performing aspects of your business)
- Integration (allows you to integrate data from various sources, i. a. CRM, e-mailing platform, Google Analytics, into one BI application)
- Data warehousing (enhances the power, usability, and performance of your BI application
- Data visualization (depicts data and trends in legible, easy-to-understand manner)
Naturally, there are many more features, and their list depends on a given application you implement into your company. The aforementioned ones are multipurpose, and the vast majority of the business intelligence programs have them.
How is business intelligence used in small companies?
Business intelligence for small business (or to give it another name–small business intelligence) concentrates primarily on substantial benefits, mostly related to such issues as business improvement and analysis.
While prominent corporations can harness BI algorithms to conduct various studies and adjustments, SMEs want real, measurable results. To survive, SMEs must be able to monitor their businesses and use all of their resources efficiently, especially their information resources. And this is the point where business intelligence comes in.
As the recent study called Dresner Advisory Service’s 2018 Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study shows:
- Small organizations (with up to 100 employees) have the highest rate of BI penetration or adoption in 2018.
- Fewer than 15% of respondent organizations have a Chief Data Officer, and only about 10% have a Chief Analytics Officer today.
- Making better decisions, improving operational efficiencies, growing revenues and increased competitive advantage are the top four BI objectives organizations have today.
With this covered, we can talk about the ways small companies use business intelligence today. There are several crucial business intelligence applications in the SME world.
Read more about BI technology: Business Intelligence Helps Managers.
They are a perfect solution to give you a quick, easy view of multiple metrics about your company and customers. There are at least several types of companies that can benefit from using dashboards:
- Online stores
- Medical clinics
- Restaurants and hotels
- B2B services companies
Here, the sky is truly the limit. Think of a dashboard as a smarter Excel. Not only it gathers all the data you possess (for instance, the number of customers within a given period, typical order value, number of newsletter subscribers, number of best-selling goods and services), but also analyzes this data and gives you easy to understand results and suggestions. All of that is combined with legible data visualization, so interpretation is effortless. In turn, you can make more accurate decisions, predict the scale of your growth, and indicate weak points that need to be addressed immediately.
Some time ago, we mentioned our ready-made dashboard, which helps in managing customer retention.
Our dashboard answers simple, yet complex question: How many customers can leave my company? The answer is delivered by indicating the most important issues you have to face in order to increase customer retention.
Our dashboard shows:
- which segments of customers are likely to leave
- how big loss is at risk
Isn’t that a significant enhancement to your business? And our dashboard offers much more!
Actually, it’s a very sophisticated tool, created for one of our SaaS clients. It comprises a customized machine learning system for customer churn prediction, sales predictions, and recommendations. Moreover, it’s fully integrated with the client’s software. As it turns out, the juice was worth the squeeze–according to our client’s stats, it gave a 19% increase in sales and an 11% increase in customer retention within just six months!
Reporting is a tool that serves as a base for the above-mentioned dashboards. Reporting is the process of organizing data in summaries with the intention of monitoring business performance. Simply put, reporting helps you to understand how fast your company grows. Reporting tools to aid you in organizing data you possess and obtaining useful, understandable knowledge, which in turn, gives actionable insights. These results and insights can be depicted with the usage of a dashboard.
Every SME has to advertise its products and services. Most likely, the Internet is a primary tool you use in your marketing strategy. Business intelligence for small companies comprises free marketing analysis tools that help you in measuring, tracking, and predicting sales and monitoring the performance of your marketing campaigns.
One of the most recognizable tools for this purpose is Google Analytics. It’s a free tool provided by the largest search engine in the world to measure your website stats. With Google Analytics, you can see how many people visit your website daily/monthly, how much time do they spend on it, where did they come from, what are they looking for, and many more. If you combine your Google Analytics insight with Google Ads (online advertising campaigns), you are likely to receive excellent results and promote your business efficiently.
A similar tool can be used to analyze almost any part of your business, whether its finance, human resources, and recruitment, supply chain management, or customer service. It all depends on your needs and preferences.
There are many ready-made tools you can use to achieve your goals, i. a. SAP Business Intelligence, MicroStrategy, Datapine, SAS Business Intelligence, Yellowfin BI, QlikSense, or Microsoft Power BI. However, keep in mind that they are designed for various purposes, so you need an advisor who can help you in setting them up and operating them on a daily basis.
Issues In Implementing Business Intelligence For Small Companies
Business intelligence for small companies generates a number of issues that have to be addressed. If you don’t, you will never be able to benefit fully from its advantages. Consider some major problems:
Business intelligence applications need data to work. However, it cannot be just any data. For instance, if you keep your customer records and entries in various places and in different formats, probably it won’t be sufficient to work on it. It has to be appropriately structured first. And this is a job for the big data scientists and business intelligence professionals.
LACK OF KNOW-HOW
The research we cited earlier showed that fewer than 15% of respondent organizations had a Chief Data Officer, and only about 10% had a Chief Analytics Officer. Perhaps, the situation looks even worse when you think of SMEs. Therefore, even if you did implement business intelligence into your business, you probably wouldn’t see much difference without trained specialists. BI is not a magic wand. It requires experienced professionals who know how to operate BI applications and programs.
Finally, one of the significant issues you have to address is costs. The truth is, implementing business intelligence is costly. Sometimes less (when ready-made programs can be used to achieve your goals), sometimes more (when the application has to be made for you from scratch), but it always requires significant financial resources, especially at the beginning. There is also a bright side. Once it’s done, a business intelligence algorithm can work for you almost without end. All you have to do is to adjust it to your current needs.
Fortunately, all these three obstacles can be overcome when you decide to outsource the entire business intelligence project.
Outsourcing AI/BI company, just like Addepto, already has a trained team of experts, and at least several projects similar to yours already in their portfolio. Therefore, they can concentrate on their job from day one, whereas you’d have to start everything from square one, which is time-consuming and even more costly.
Here you can read more about our BI solutions. As always, we invite you heartily to give us a call. Let’s talk about all the improvements small business intelligence can introduce into your company. Are you ready for the next step in development? We are here for you! With Addepto, you can easily outsource entire business intelligence on your behalf. Come and see what happens next!