BI is not just for the big boys

Most of us don’t normally associate Business Intelligence (BI) with small- or medium-sized businesses; the large investment that has traditionally been required to hire specialist data-delving experts makes us think it’s the preserve of larger organizations. But no longer is that the case – not only does a growing selection of self-service tools put BI within reach of smaller companies, but you probably create and hold more data than you realize, which makes it easier to get going. Dispel these false beliefs about BI and get started harnessing the data that will make it easier for your small business to make more strategic decisions.

You’ve already got the data you need

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of data your small- or medium-sized business already has at its disposal. In every area of your business from finance and sales to customer relations and website management, the software packages you use to simplify your everyday operations are packed with reams of information that most of us don’t even think twice about. By talking to key stakeholders in your organization’s various departments, you can get an idea for the kind of data you already have, how it’s generated, and where it’s stored. You’re then in a good place to begin thinking about using BI tools to transform that information into meaningful business insights that inform key decision-making – all while reducing the resources you need to invest in time-consuming data generation from scratch.

Self-service BI tools are plentiful – and affordable

The real beauty of the emergence of self-service BI is that it puts useful business analytics within reach of smaller business owners who lack the fancy-pants budgets of larger corporations. In fact, there are numerous self-service BI tools that you can use to get started in this area without even spending a dime. Microsoft Power BI is a powerful application that’s pleasingly user-friendly, and most businesses will find the functions they need in the free version. Zoho Reports has a low entry-level cost, too, and the slightly pricier yet still affordable Tableau is another option that’s worth exploring.

It’s easy to get started

BI is an intimidating term, and just the thought of delving into it can send a shiver down the spine of the average business owner. But by taking small steps, it’s easy to get started – and before you know it you’ll have the benefit of real-intelligence-based business insights that enable you to make better decisions for your organization’s long-term success. Most self-service BI tools come with built-in suggestions for reports that businesses commonly run and find useful. Other worthwhile statistics to explore include the percentage of your clients who cancel within a set period; website landing pages that generate the longest visits; your most profitable individual products or services; the days or months in which you generate your highest revenues; and which of your clients brings in the most revenue and profit.

Truly harnessing data is the future of the business world – it’s how companies like yours can make smarter decisions that increase efficiency and profitability. And self-service tools mean smaller organizations no longer need a crazy budget to be able to afford the benefits of BI in the first place. To find out more about putting in place the tools that can help make your business more intelligent, just give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Tips for smart BI planning

Implementing Business Intelligence (BI) software and other tools can help your company grown by leaps and bounds. However, it has to be planned for with the proper level of diligence and care to truly be beneficial to your business. Haphazardly installing BI software can result in an expensive misstep that sees you fall behind the competition. But with well executed BI planning and implementation, your company can grow in ways never imagined.

Quite a few business owners see other companies using BI software and tools successfully and hope to emulate those results. Unfortunately, BI goes far beyond installing a program on your employee’s computers and expecting them to churn out results because of it. In fact, without proper planning in place, you could end up losing money on your BI investment.

If you’re ready to bring BI software and tools to your small or medium-sized business but aren’t quite sure what your should be looking for, here are four things you need to consider during the planning process.

What data do you need to know

BI software is great at helping you obtain data and presenting it to you in all kinds of different ways. But it’s only helpful if you can actually use the information. Too many businesses jump on the BI software bandwagon because they hear about the great results other companies have achieved using these tools. However, if you don’t know what information you’re looking for or how to use that data to your advantage, BI software essentially becomes a toy for you and your staff to play with.

That’s why you need to fully understand what information and data your business needs before implementing any BI software. This will help you pick the best tool for your needs and then utilize it to great effect.

Create specific goals

When you are planning to implement BI software it is vital to have a specific endgame in mind. Increasing profits sounds great but it’s hard to utilize BI effectively when tackling a goal of that magnitude. Instead focus on performance metrics you can measure like higher closing rates or more online conversations. This will help make your planning easier and allow you to find the BI tools required to reach those goals as well as track your progress along the way.

Think about today and the future

It is important to not only think about BI software in correlation to your short term goals but your long term ones as well. You want to make sure your BI software is useful both now and in the future. Find something that can grow alongside your company over the long haul. You don’t want to constantly be changing or adding on to BI tools unless it is absolutely necessary. If possible, find BI solutions that are scalable and flexible so they can help over a longer period of time.

Keep it simple

Sometimes the desire to know more about your company can see you end up overloading your staff and employees with complex toolsets and data. The goal, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, should be data that is quickly accessible and easy to comprehend. This will allow you and your team to make speedy and informed decisions. Convoluting the process with unnecessary information or complicated process will only serve to negate what you are trying to do by installing BI software in the first place.

BI tools and software are designed to help you work smarter, not harder. When you plan to bring them to your company, this is something you will want to keep at the forefront of your decision making process.

If your company is looking to start utilizing BI tools, our team of experts can help. Together we can create a BI plan that works best for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Common BI mistakes businesses make

Clued-up companies rely on business intelligence (BI) in order to make informed decisions regarding their future. Yet even though businesses invest in BI, they often make mistakes resulting from a lack of knowledge about how best to implement it, and can end up losing more than they can afford. Here is a round-up of common BI mistakes encountered by businesses, and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Not defining business problems

One of the biggest mistakes in BI implementation is jumping to conclusions too soon without first identifying what your business wants to accomplish. When it comes to integrating BI into business operations, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Looking for a single BI tool to solve all analytics problems is one of the main reasons many BI projects fail.

You need to clearly define the business problem you’re trying to solve, and understand the specific tools required to solve those problems. Only then will you be able to select and purchase the BI tool that best suits your needs.

Mistake #2: Not getting buy-in from end users

Even the best BI tools are ineffective if they’re not properly utilized. Forcing your employees to use newly purchased BI technology without informing them or hearing their thoughts beforehand is a big mistake.

Instead of telling employees they have to use something, first focus on highlighting the benefits of the new BI system. Help employees understand why they’ll want to use it, and convince them by showing them what they stand to gain from the new BI technology.

Mistake #3: Rushing implementation

A rushed deployment of new technology is often times not a successful one. When it comes to deploying BI solutions, patience is key. If you hurry into BI implementation too quickly, your end users may not have enough time to develop the skills required to use the software effectively.

Take an incremental approach to implementing BI solutions. Make a list identifying business problems and, rather than expecting to solve every business problem all at once, try to prioritize specific outcomes you want to achieve. When you have solved the first issue, move on to the next one and so on until you have incrementally solved all the problems on the list.

Mistake #4: Insufficient training

New BI systems are complex structures that require a lot of training in order for users to make the most of them. If users lack the skills necessary to operate the software, then bottlenecks can occur. The product may be left dormant for long periods of time as users wait for experienced IT staff to resolve teething problems.

Spend wisely on providing ongoing training, so that users really understand how to use the system. Consider hosting weekly lunch sessions where a different aspect of the BI system is discussed. You could also provide online training videos that enable users to learn more about the new system at their own pace.

Mistake #5: Not making use of information and reports

BI tools are designed to analyze raw data and turn it into valuable information that can be used in business decision making. But some organizations fail to exploit the information fully – it is not shared, not analyzed, and not acted on. BI software can generate reports on various data points, identify risks, and predict trends. It’s important to leverage the information gathered and to apply it to your business’s objectives and goals.

Business intelligence software is a highly useful tool that, when used properly, can drive your business forward. Avoid these mistakes in order to make the most of your BI solutions. If you’re looking to implement BI tools to your company, contact our experienced consultants today and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.