BI Tools for SMEs? Not Just Maybe, But DEFINITELY
Small and medium sized organizations often give up on the idea of business intelligence and corporate performance management, because they believe that the BI tools and solutions are too expensive and complex to implement and that their organizational structure and processes is simple enough to manage without these types of tools.
The truth is that small and medium sized companies (SMEs) can get just as much benefit from BI tools as a large organization and these tools can offer a competitive advantage and a clear path to business results. In fact, recent studies reveal that SMEs now have more BI and Big Data projects in the works than their larger, more complex brethren.
The driving force of these projects is simple. SMEs have discovered that, if they can better harness and manage their data, they can analyze it to capitalize on trends and patterns and fully understand what drives their results and what is holding them back. The untapped potential hidden in this data is crucial and can provide insight into competitors, suppliers, customers, products, pricing, etc.
Here are some important factors to think about when your SME is considering a business intelligence (BI) and corporate performance management (CPM) solution.
Where is your business data? Make a list of the locations where your data resides (data warehouses, databases, spreadsheets, legacy systems, best-of-breed solutions, ERP, CRM, SCM, etc).
Who uses your business data? Who should be using your business data? Data is often restricted to analysts and IT staff that must produce reports to provide team members and/or managers and executives with information that comes from disparate sources. Understanding who needs this data and what they could do with it, if it were accessible and easy to analyze is an extremely important factor in selecting and implementing an appropriate BI and CPM solution.
How can you ensure the best solution with the most timely, affordable implementation, training and deployment? Consider user skills to be sure that your users can easily learn and leverage these tools so you can achieve swift ROI and keep your TCO low. Make sure that the solution is mobile and suitable for all mobile devices and desktops so that you don’t lose time or productivity when your team is on the road. Do not consider building your own BI tool! Even if your IT team is great, they have a lot of other work to do and the complexity of this design and development project includes sophisticated algorithms, user interface concerns, enterprise mobility, reporting modules, custom dashboard requirements, key performance indicator modules, forecasting and predictive analysis and well…way too many other factors to list here. There are a lot of great choices on the market today, so get your requirements in order and choose the right partner. You will achieve your goal a lot faster, with less expense, effort and time than if you attempted to build the solution yourself.
Don’t forget growth! You won’t be small forever, so be sure you choose a solution that will grow with your business and allow you to expand into other locations, add resources, add other software solutions and still ensure the integrity of your integration, etc.
Consider flexibility. No business wants to alter their processes or approach in order to accommodate a restrictive software solution. Be sure that the solution you choose is easy to customize and flexible and easy enough for all users.
No matter how small or large your enterprise, you can benefit from business intelligence tools. Take the time to consider the advantages, define your requirements and look ahead to ensure that the solution you choose is suitable for future growth and needs. Then, step into the future of your business with confidence, and a true picture of results.