Since the inception of modern business theory, organizations large and small have sought a competitive edge in the marketplace. In recent years, new technologies have allowed large corporations to better analyze and understand their data. This has led to the rise of business intelligence tools, which can help to enable increased market competitiveness, responsiveness, and profitability when effectively applied to business problems.
While the tools and concepts surrounding business intelligence have been around for decades, they have long been considered reserved for large, established corporations alone. Thankfully, the rise of new software offerings such as Microsoft’s Power BI is helping to allow small businesses to enjoy the benefits of available, accessible, and affordable data analysis.
So what is business intelligence, and how can it benefit the goals of small businesses? Follow us through this article as we seek to answer these important questions.
What Is Business Intelligence?
At its core, business intelligence represents a combination of unique approaches for organizing, analyzing, and managing data. In today’s digital economy, even the smallest of businesses can become inundated with terabytes of data. The goal of business intelligence tools is to simplify the process of turning these reams of data into actionable information for business decision-makers.
The insights derived from business intelligence tools can play a vital role in small business. With tools like Power BI, indecipherable data can be transformed into insights on how to reduce operations costs, deliver better customer service, and even increase revenue. In other words, the impact of business intelligence tools is only limited by the creativity and ingenuity of the small businesses utilizing them.
Key Benefits of Business Intelligence For Small Business
A few decades ago, only the largest corporations could afford to implement business intelligence tools at enterprise scale. Today, the barrier to entry is far lower, allowing any firm willing to commit the proper resources to enjoy the competitive advantage offered by timely business insights. While there are a nearly endless number of benefits enjoyed through the use of tools like Power BI, key advantages include:
Improved Communication: Business intelligence tools make the distribution of critical data and communications easier than ever before. Better yet, the leading platforms ensure that critical business information is secured even in the event of a lost or stolen device.
Better Risk Analysis: When business data is organized and accessible, it can lead to more informed risk analysis. This promotes better decision making, which ultimately helps firms mitigate risk as much as possible.
Reduced Costs & Increased Revenues: It is critical for small business owners to understand where their money is going each quarter. Most business intelligence platforms offer built-in budgeting tools, which help to monitor expenditures and protect the business’s bottom line. Furthermore, insight gleaned from business data can be applied to increase sales and customer retention, thus improving profitability.
Increased Supply Chain Efficiency: Since Amazon led the normalization of two-day shipping a few years ago, online shoppers have consistently stressed supply chains. For small firms pursuing e-commerce, supply chain inefficiencies can make or break a business model. Thankfully, business intelligence software can help organizations effortlessly manage the strain created by a high volume of online orders.
Needless to say, business intelligence software offers an enticing set of benefits for small businesses. Regardless of the product, service, or experience offered, these tools can help streamline aspects of business ranging from budgeting to customer relations. In turn, small businesses are provided with competitive advantages that were once enjoyed by large corporations alone.
How Small Businesses Can Unlock The Power Of Business Intelligence
While waxing poetic about the benefits of business intelligence can be helpful, outlining how small businesses can unlock the power of business intelligence can be just as effective. As is the case with many business tools and processes, it’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution here.
However, there are a few essential tips that can help any small business effectively apply this tool to their own processes. These tips and tricks include:
Start Small & Scale Quickly: When business intelligence methods are first applied, the mountain of data created by day-to-day business operations can be seriously intimidating. Consider starting with the use of business intelligence tools to determine a few key metrics. After these initial insights are determined, it will be far easier to quickly scale the use of this impactful tool.
Don’t Ditch Effective Processes: The last thing any small business should do when implementing business intelligence tools is to unceremoniously ditch processes that are already effective. While a select number of effective processes will likely be replaced by business intelligence insights, try to avoid dismissing existing tools too soon.
Encourage Employees To Embrace Dashboards: Leading business intelligence solutions enable small businesses to access key benchmarks through an easy-to-read dashboard interface. Promoting a dashboard-centric culture can help team members stay on the same page. This is especially important to geographically dispersed organizations with numerous employees working remote.
Prioritize Security: As always, small businesses should seek to prioritize the security of their data whenever possible. While the benefits provided by business intelligence software are enticing, enjoying a slight competitive advantage is not worth suffering a serious data breach.
At the end of the day, it’s important to bear in mind that small businesses enjoy numerous competitive advantages when compared to their corporate counterparts. From the ability to acquire and retain top talent to the application of creative problem-solving methods, small businesses can often outmaneuver their larger opponents.
The introduction of dynamic and affordable business intelligence solutions provides small businesses with a unique opportunity to augment these advantages with superior insight. When combined with existing practices and procedures, the application of business intelligence tools can help any small business ensure greater success, regardless of industry.