When small businesses face increased competition, the need to make good decisions based on relevant information, a process that quickly becomes imperative for growth. And in an era of data-driven business, the decision-making process is taking an evolutionary path all its own.
Most SMEs manage the extra data key using spreadsheets, database contact management, payroll systems and other databases. These data can potentially serve as a basis for a BI solution, provided it is reliable and accurate. Often, they are not subject to the same controls as the data from the accounting system or ERP system of the company, and they can produce more false leads than lessons.
However, in recent years, several alternatives to lower prices have emerged, providing SMEs with the necessary technology to implement a complete BI solution. Some of these tools are available online, thanks to the establishment of the SaaS model.
New Data Democracy for SMEs
Intuit Inc. in association with Emergent Research has prepared a report “The New Data Democracy: How Big Data Will Revolutionize the Lives of Small Business and Consumers,” which forecast how new data democracy will help small business owners and consumers make smarter, more informed decisions by gaining access to a wealth of new information in next ten years.
From Intuit’s report:
Previously the exclusive domain of statisticians, large corporations and information technology departments, the emerging availability of data and analytics – call it a new democratization – gives small businesses and consumers greater access to cost-effective, sophisticated, data powered tools and analytical systems. This new data democracy will deliver meaningful insights on markets, competition and bottom-line business results for small businesses, as well as shape many of the decisions we face as individuals and families.
The growing access to this massive volume of information – and the ability to refine and analyze it – makes it a new type of raw material, on par with capital and labor. Advanced analytics will move from the domain of specialists to everyday users.
The report reveals three important trends of big data for SMEs. First, data will play an important role to refine powerful analytical tools; connected devices through the global grid and mobile devices will shape future of purchasing decisions; and lastly, small businesses will enable more efficient way to deal with big data.
“Data-driven solutions will come to the rescue, helping simplify–and even make–these decisions,” the report says. “Over the next five to seven years, emerging technologies and new analytical tools will convert daunting data streams into actionable information that will ease personal decision making, reduce uncertainty and save individuals both time and money.”
Small Business Hopeful for 2013
IBM says 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are born every day, and more than 90 percent of the world’s digital information was produced only over the last two years. It is therefore even more important to adopt a strategic point of view to define technological solutions intelligence solutions.
SMB group recently reported in their Top 10 SMB Predictions for 2013 “SMB Routes to Market Study” that mid-level businesses are taking the steps needed to turn the information fire hose into actionable business insights, with 57% of medium businesses having purchased/upgraded a business intelligence/analytics solution in the past 24 months, and 49% planning to do so in the next 12 months.
However, small businesses are hard-pressed to follow suit – just 18% of small businesses have purchased/upgraded a business intelligence/analytics solution in the past 24 months, and only 17% plan to do so in the next 12 months. To make big data relevant for small businesses, BI and analytics vendors will need to up education regarding relevant use cases and key performance indicators, and provide streamlined tools that integrate easily with the business applications small businesses already use.
IDC predicts that Big Data solutions are going to be a significant differentiator for the businesses that are able to use them to change their competitive positions. Big Data-as-a-Service (BDaaS) solution will leverage platform, networking, storage, and compute services, as well as solve the challenge of how customers will on-board their data.
Gartner, in its Predicts 2013: Big Data and Information Infrastructure report, however, warned that the availability of skills for supporting big data use cases would be an issue for next year. The report says business users are demanding that analytic outputs are integrated into their daily operations. The decisions from big data projects for decision support, and insights in the context of their role and job function, will expand from 28 per cent of users in 2011 to 50 per cent in 2014.