When a new technology or strategy is trending, there’s often an assumption that it will help large, Fortune 500 companies the most. After all, they’re the ones with the resources to be early adopters, and most innovations are created with their large environments in mind, right?
Not quite. Today, companies with 10, 100, and 1,000 employees are finding out they have much to gain from business intelligence and the data analytics that come with it. In fact, by 2020 it’s projected that BI and advanced analytics will be in use in 75% of organizations. Those small to mid-sized companies that wait any longer to adopt business intelligence strategies will have trouble catching up to the competition.
Allows for More Accurate, Faster Decision-Making
Business intelligence doesn’t have to be a mystery. At its heart, BI is an overall data analysis strategy for an organization that can improve nearly any function. By focusing on strategically cultivating the data already pouring into a company as well as any opportunities to collect additional valuable information, BI’s effects are concrete.
Until recently, many high-level decisions made by executives were based in part on instinct/experience, and partly on the performance of previous quarters or years. But in a company that’s employing business intelligence strategy to its fullest, the picture is drastically clearer. Real-time insights are possible, allowing decisions to be made based on up-to-the-minute information as opposed to last year’s balance sheets. Reports to investigate any factor can be produced immediately, and trends can be identified as they are happening instead of after the fact.
BI not only takes the guessing game out of decision-making, but it goes one step further. It provides a groundwork that, when used with machine learning tools, can make an organization predictive. When a company can understand what their current data tells them about what’s ahead, that’s when the greatest benefits of BI are felt.
Improves Interdepartmental Communication
The reason business intelligence has such a big impact is in its all-encompassing view of an organization. Instead of sitting in departmental silos, data is treated as a whole and shared between different areas. Even in small companies that have one-man accounting, marketing, or sales departments, it is too common that data insights are not shared. Despite the notion that fewer employees should make it easier to share information, the reality is that these organizations are often shorthanded with little time to concentrate on data analysis. This is why BI centers of excellence have been created in many companies, so that they can effectively leverage data insights in a singular location.
Grants a Window to the Competition
At a time when every business, whether they do so strategically or not, produces a tremendous amount of data, they also leave behind a digital trail that can be harnessed by a strong BI strategy. That means understanding what makes your competitors tick can now be based on hard facts rather than educated guesswork. BI strategy and big data analysis can scour the internet for a competitor’s public financial records, trends/sales patterns for their offerings, social media mentions, and more. When insights can be drawn from that information and instantly compared to yours, you will have 20/20 vision of the competition.
It’s Easier Than Ever to Implement BI…
On one hand, the good news is that it’s easier than ever to delve into the business intelligence landscape as entry-level business intelligence offerings have become extremely user-friendly, especially as a cloud-based service. Nearly 50% of executive management teams see cloud BI as critical and very important to their information needs. Amazon’s AWS offering leads the market, capturing 73% of companies that use a cloud business intelligence platform. Additionally, it’s predicted that in the next 3-5 years BI technology will consolidate, with many previously separate aspects such as reporting, querying, online analytical processing (OLAP), data visualization, dashboards, data exploration, and location analytics expected to work together in one package. For a small to mid-sized business looking to dive into BI, the future looks promising.
…But It’s More Difficult Than Ever to find BI talent
On the other hand, the easiest BI tools to use will not be the ones that produce the biggest results for your organization. For that, it takes dedicated business intelligence expertise. Unfortunately, a study of hiring managers shows BI skills are one of the hardest skill sets to hire for. The extreme difficulty in locating and recruiting business intelligence talent is due to a big data talent shortage coupled with an increasing number of organizations looking for someone to own a comprehensive BI strategy. With such a limited number of knowledgeable BI talent available, the companies that can secure these professionals will be the ones that see the biggest improvements.
The Role of Business Intelligence in Small to Mid-Sized Companies
No longer just a prediction or a vague concept, the power that BI can bring your business is real, and it is in the market right now. However, as with most things, adopting business intelligence strategy is easier said than done. BI done right can help your business soar, but BI done wrong can pull your bottom line into the red. The direction your company takes will be determined by the level of BI talent you have at your disposal.