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What Is Business Intelligence (BI) for Small Business?

Written by Accent Computer Solutions

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Keeping up with technology these days feels impossible. It seems like every day there is a new acronym or term that has taken over a new identity, like the Cloud.

With advancements happening so rapidly, it can be overwhelming, leaving your business hanging in flux. Trying to define what actually gives your small business a competitive edge and what's fluff is a full-time job.

So, if you are anything like me and waiting to exhale, you've come to the right place. The truth about Business Intelligence is, if you take it one step at a time, you’ll be way more successful than diving in too deep.

Let’s go over a basic view of Business Intelligence and what it can do for your small business.

Business Intelligence (BI) Basics for Small Businesses

The first step is defining the concept. In simple terms, Business Intelligence, also known as BI, is a set of tools that capture, store and analyze data.

I know it sounds like more work, but the good news is that this data is already being generated by your business. BI tools take all the data flowing in and out of your organization, organically, and turn it into knowledge.

That knowledge can then be morphed into informed tactical management decisions.

Business Intelligence (BI) Advantages

The immediate goal is to use this data to make the right decisions at the right time, to drive improvements, and increase performance. The long-term goal is to use this data to increase profits.

If this sounds new to you, it's because it is. Until recently, tracking this type of data and applying analytics was only accessible to big businesses. That's why this is a huge game-changer.

So, what caused this massive change?

The short answer, the Cloud. The long answer, Cloud-based services have made BI cost-effective for the small business market.

Multiple software companies are designing BI tools now. These tools can be plugged into typical small business management software like QuickBooks, NetSuite, Salesforce, and Paychex to name a few.

What Are the Biggest Problems with Business Intelligence (BI)?

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as magic. With innovation inevitably comes growing pains as well. Small businesses typically lack the in-house skills to run and maintain data warehousing systems.

Capturing data can be complicated to manage, and usually, your current infrastructure isn't set up for that kind of environment.

But there is hope.

Hosted cloud solutions or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) can help minimize the skills needed in-house. Analytic tools focused on the smaller end of the market do have some limitations, but I foresee this changing. For example, Microsoft's Power BI has made significant improvements in the past few years. 

Demands from the small business market should drive the development of new technologies, quickly.

Avoid These 2 Business Intelligence Mistakes

To give you a leg up, keep these things in mind for a successful start to BI.

1. Avoid limiting your options. It’s okay to have multiple tools to analyze and present data. The holy grail of a fully automated or "a single window" into your business may be overkill to start, plus it’s hard to keep up in the long term.

2. Avoid over-thinking implementation. Remember to pace yourself, one step at a time. Don’t take a giant leap into the BI world. Pick a solution (or a couple of solutions) that fit and are easy to implement right now.

In closing, yes, your small business would likely benefit from BI. It's a great way to track your data to make better business decisions. 

But the good news is, the software and complexity will continue to get more comfortable for small businesses to utilize. If you haven’t started to consider what BI is available for your industry, contact your technology strategy team and get the discussion started today.

Have questions? We're happy to chat anytime. Give us a call at 800-481-4369.

Related: Tech Trends: Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS)

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