As the name suggests, this is a short introduction to analytics, aimed at small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) getting started in the area.

Step One – What does “Analytics” mean Anyway?

You will come across lots of terms here, some of which are more obvious than others: decisionBusinessman taking a cell phone support, business intelligence (BI), reporting, visualization, analysis, dashboards, data discovery, OLAP, predictive…the list goes on. What they have in common is that they involve taking data and using it to make business decisions. The data may come from several places (a CRM system, Excel spreadsheets, social media, “big data,” etc.) and be consumed in many places (laptop, mobile phone, iPad, etc.). But the bottom line is using information to drive understanding that drives decisions to drive the business.

Step Two – Where do SMEs Start with Analytics?

Start with your business, not the technology. What do you need to do better or faster than today in order to grow, outsmart your competitors, transform your business, or sometimes just survive? What information do you need to achieve that? Where is that information today, and do you even have it? How reliable is the data you have? Just as important, but often overlooked: what cultural changes will you need to adopt analytics in decision making? So start with your company goals; analytics is just a means to achieving that end.

Step Three – Where Can I Find Out More about Analytics?

There’s a good blog called The Decision Factor, which has tips and tricks on all aspects of analytics.

Step Four – Who Can SMEs Work With?

To move forward, you’ll probably want to engage a business partner who you can trust here. You will be looking at managing cultural change and technology adoption; areas that are not necessarily core to your traditional business. Look for solution providers in your region, with expertise in your industry. Use social media for recommendations and reviews of course. And if you’re already thinking of global expansion, take that into account too. Have fun, and let us know how it goes!