Does your small business need to use business intelligence software? Yes.
Times like this, I wish English had a version of “Jein,” a useful German word that means “yes and no.” Can your small business benefit from Business Intelligence software? Jein.
Allow me to clarify, since right now I sound like a one-man version of the duck-season-rabbit-season argument.
Youdon’tneed the jargon-laden, enterprise-level business intelligence (BI) it takes a statistician to understand. Youdoneed the nitty-gritty business intelligence you’ve probably been doing for years.
If you came to this page to learn about business intelligence (or closely related things like business analytics, big data, and data analytics), good news: you know more than you think you do.
For example, have you ever checked your sales figures to figure out why they’re higher in June than July? Do you keep a list of what specific clients like, and need, even just in your head? Have you ever recommended a technician take a shorter route to reduce fuel spend?
If you’ve ever saved money from this kind of analysis, you’ve used business intelligence.
Business intelligence, to paraphraseWikipedia’s definition, is just “a technology-driven process for analyzing data” to help you make more actionable, “more informed business decisions.” So don’t be put off by BI because it seems complicated or enterprise-level. You’ve probably already used it.
However, BI can seem so complex that you may experience FOBO, or fear of being overwhelmed. You’ve probably heard of FOBO’s cousin,FOMO, fear of missing out. Admittedly, BI is a big subject, and if you jump in thewabbitrabbit hole, you might getlost at Albuquerque.
Consider this article a road map of terms you need to know, and benefits you can get from BI software. Consider it also a reminder that you probably know more of the sites on that map than you think.
Read on to figure out how to make that left turn at Albuquerque, and not miss out on how BI can help you get better at what you already do.
The difference between enterprise-level BI and the BI a small business needs is like the difference between training for a medal and training for health. You don’t need a personal trainer — orhigh-tech softwarethat analyzes every stride — to get in shape for that 10K. But an app likeMapMyWalkthat charts your pace per mile can help. Small business BI is like that. You may not be Usain Bolt, but analytics can still help you. And, lucky for you, a lot of what it can help you do is optimize the best practices you’ve already got.
Christian Ofori-Boateng, CEO of ChristianSteven software, describes the public perceptions surrounding the two approaches to business intelligence. “There’s what people are talking about, and what’s actually happening. IoT, big data, and that sort of stuff is talked about, but it doesn’t affect a lot of businesses.” Many of those businesses are SMBs.
The sort of helpful information small businesses will get from BI software is information they’ve been using for years. “We called them reports in the old days,” he says about the information delivered by BI solutions. Business intelligence is “just the regular info you have, like contacts, birthdays, etc.” BI software “puts that statistical stuff together in a visual way you can understand. If you’ve got that, you’ve got business intelligence.”
Self-service is a leading trend in BI, both on the enterprise and small-business level.
It’s also a great example of you knowing more than you think you do.
For example, if you have ever charted sales figures in Excel, or jotted down how much landscaping work was done by neighborhood, you were doing self-service BI. A business intelligence app just makes serving yourself easier. Rather than adding up sales figures month by month, column by column, BI software can do that for you automatically, then encapsulate that information into an image.
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