In the past, many small business leaders relied on their experience, intuition, and observations to guide their business decisions. While these factors continue to play an important role in running a company, business intelligence (BI) allows today’s executives to leverage concrete data and make more informed decisions about their organization.
If taking your company to the next level is one of your New Year’s resolutions, BI could be the answer. Here are a few common questions about business intelligence, and why the time has come to embrace it.
What is business intelligence?
Business intelligence is a set of tools that can transform raw data into information your small business can use to quickly gain important insights and make fact-based business assessments.
Isn’t Excel good enough?
Excel, Google Analytics, and Salesforce are fundamental BI solutions that offer value to many small businesses, but they aren’t as all-encompassing as full-fledged BI tools. For example, they can’t integrate and analyze data from numerous sources the way a solid business intelligence solution can.
The good news is, you can use products like these in tandem with a BI tool — and in doing so you’ll extract even more insights from their data.
What can my small business gain from using BI?
Regardless of what industry you’re in, leveraging BI can help you gain a better understanding of nearly any aspect of your business. Up until now, you have probably used BI tools to enhance customer service or control inventory. But that is just the start of what BI can do for your growing company. The right business intelligence tool can provide you with even greater opportunities for your small business in 2016 — giving it a competitive advantage this year and beyond.
Consumers move fast in this increasingly tech-driven world, and that’s not projected to change anytime soon. To keep up, your company will need to pay close attention to developments in digital marketing —and know how to make them work for you. That’s where business intelligence comes in. Used effectively, BI tools can help you quickly identify relevant market trends so you can capitalize on them while they are hot. Plus, business intelligence can track and analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) to help your small business boost sales and streamline processes.
An additional benefit of certain advanced BI tools — and part of what is going to make them such key assets in 2016 — is that they give you the power to pull real-time data from a variety of sources, including spreadsheets and CSV files, into one consolidated report or dashboard. This provides you with a better understanding of which areas are working well and which ones need attention.
Optimizing real-time data also facilitates effective communication and decision making among your team members. They can reference the same up-to-the-minute data — not a mix of stale statistics pulled last week or last month. And with more BI products expected to offer mobile-first platforms, your employees can even tap into company data outside of the office, like when they’re on sales calls.
As a small business owner you’re always looking for ways to save money, increase revenue, and keep your company competitive. Start 2016 by adding a business intelligence solution to your toolbox, and this could be your most lucrative year yet.