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Business Intelligence: Not Just for Big Business

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 12:04pm | by Jeska

For many small-business owners, the idea of business intelligence is something best suited to large companies. Your busy trying to keep your operation running – you have no need for a complex, large-scale intelligence platform that requires extensive knowledge to operate and offers information that’s difficult to scale down to a business of your size and scope.

However, in recent years BI software has become easier to implement and use, making it an important tool for businesses of all sizes. In fact, small businesses can use the data and analysis garnered by BI more effectively for business intelligence assessment than larger organizations. Rather than spend days, weeks or months poring over spreadsheets and looking for patterns and trends, BI software can pull data from across several operating systems and segments of their business and provide more solid answers to important questions, offering actionable insights in a shorter timeframe.

BI offers several benefits to small businesses that can help them compete with larger organizations on a more level playing field.

Demographic Analysis

One of the principles of Business 101 is that the key to any successful enterprise is knowing who the customer is and giving them what they want. Many small businesses have some idea of who their customer is, but the high-level analysis provided by a allows you to dig deeper and make better decisions in regard to not only how you market your product or service, but also which products and services you offer. Instead of assuming you know who your customers are, BI allows you to know exactly who they are, what they are buying and how they are buying — and you, in turn, can give them exactly what they want.

Improved Content Strategy

These days, it’s vital for any business to have an online presence. It’s not enough to simply build a website and assume that visitors will come, though. You have to attract visitors to your site, and one way to do that is via a solid content strategy; what you offer visitors who come to your site can make a significant difference in the number of conversions. With BI, you can determine what your target market is looking for, analyze the content they are consuming and add more effective content to your online marketing strategy.

Real-Time Analysis

For the typical small business, it can take weeks or even months to collect enough data to make accurate assessments and predictions. However, in today’s fast-paced environment, most entrepreneurs cannot afford to wait for sufficient data to make decisions. Many BI products allow businesses to collect key data in real time, showing the current state of affairs and offering forecasts for future opportunities when they are still viable — and not after the window has closed. Such insights prevent costly errors or missed opportunities while still allowing you to proactively target potentially profitable ones.

Other benefits of BI include cost savings, as data analysis allows you to identify cost overruns or overspending early on as well as more effective marketing and advertising strategies.

Choosing a BI Solution

While BI solutions and platforms are more accessible to small businesses than ever before, smart entrepreneurs must still research the wide range of solutions available to ensure they get the data and analytics that they need. Because such solutions can be expensive, it’s important to ask several important questions before making the investment.

First, it’s important to question the opportunity. In other words, know what you hope to gain from the BI and how you plan to use it. If you know what you’re looking for, you have a better chance of finding the solution that will give you what you want.

Second, consider whether you have access to quality data that can be used for analysis before you invest in BI software. If you don’t have access to the data you need, even the best BI platform won’t offer you the insights you need and want.

Finally, ask practical questions. Cost, ease of use and the mobility of the platform are all important concerns, and you must be comfortable with the answers before investing. For example, if you’re always on the go, BI software that does not have a mobile or cloud component will prove frustrating.

As a small-business owner, you are always looking for ways to take your enterprise to the nest level while simultaneously keeping costs in check and making solid decisions. Employing business intelligence is one way to stay ahead of the competition and ensure your business’s success.

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