THE BLOG
07/28/2016 08:22 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How Business Intelligence Helps Small Businesses Make Better Decisions

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We often talk about the benefits of business intelligence, but we rarely explain what business intelligence is and why you should even consider it. More often than not, we are faced with this dilemma as we find ourselves excited at the "prospect" of what our business intelligence (BI) tools should offer, without knowing what it really can do.

In a recent blog post published by Panorama, they tackled an important yet simple business question, "What is Business Intelligence?"

BI is a tool that helps organizations improve decision making by tracking, processing, storing and analyzing data and transforming it into insights. Business users can in turn use these insights to make the right decisions in the right time, cutting costs, identifying new business opportunities and improving their organization's performance.

Do we need business intelligence?

Yes!

Today we live in a world where organizations collect and store huge amounts of data. If that data is not put to good use to serve the company for a specific purpose, it becomes a heavy and expensive burden for the organization. It is very easy to get lost in all the data as the analysis process can be long and tedious; but with BI, the process becomes optimized plus with solutions like panorama NECTO 16 , it has become almost automatic! Users can get knowledge that will improve their decision making in just two clicks!

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Not only large corporations need BI. Small businesses do too!

When most of us started our businesses, business intelligence (BI) was a special treat only the big-chip companies could enjoy, because well, employing analytics software required building data centers and hiring IT specialists and consultants.

If it helps big organizations make better business decisions, then it should be able to help small business make sound and effective decisions for their businesses too!

Times have changed, and today, small business BI is a booming industry. The same technological explosion that made the whole world fit into our pockets; in the shape of a smartphone or a tablet, also drastically reduced the size and cost of analytical solutions. For the first time, it is possible for small businesses to deploy BI to fulfill different needs, analyze their performance, predict their future, and make better decisions.

For small businesses where one person is a jack of all trades, it means that your employees can pull out the particular piece of information they need even if it exceeds their immediate area of expertise.

Through this, members of your team are empowered to view the same data from multiple locations and make data-driven decisions together. Business intelligence for small business doesn't require any programming knowledge; neither need you to invest in trainings. All you need to do is to create a dashboard that will make everybody, from the top of the ladder to the bottom, understand that regular data analysis pays off. Gathering high-quality data is not a one-time effort and you must re-evaluate your goals periodically to determine whether your BI setup is helping you achieve them. The more you empower individuals to use and share data, the better their access to vital customer and financial information, then the more effective they will be in contributing to the achievement of your goal.

Also, getting visual is one of the best ways to explore and understand data, particularly when presenting it to customers, investors or other stakeholders. To present data in a digestible and persuasive way and not to lose your audience's attention, it's advisable to use infographics - best choice of BI for small businesses. With this smart solution you can display business data on compelling charts without spending too much time on chart formatting and design.

Furthermore, it helps you to grow your business. How is it possible? BI tools are smart and will help you reveal some trends in your past performance that could otherwise go unnoticed. You can identify crucial trends in your data with the potential to unlock new growth opportunities. By analyzing your past performance in context and trying to understand the factors that influenced the best or worst results, you can discover the key to the future growth.

However, please note.

When small businesses go shopping for BI and analytics solutions, the tendency can be to take a giant leap. The prospect of having all your data integrated and available to end users sounds exciting.
Also, management may think the system they buy should accommodate any future needs that may arise as the business grows. This may make many of them to lose sight of the fact that the solution must be simple and easy to manage in order to be successful in the long term.

Of course, the sweet talking salesmen from different solution providers also play a role in confusing the decision makers and making them sway from their immediate needs, and they sell a complicated system that's far too expansive for a small business that basically only needs to analyze little data.

Therefore, the best approach for a small business is to consider a BI suite that provides the best data connectors for their most important data. Business intelligence solutions with straight-forward incorporation requirements and immediate impact, is a much better alternative for small companies.