Large organisations are investing ever greater amounts of money in Data projects – and the gulf between SMEs and their larger competitors is widening. According to research from Forbes, “New and varied sources of data, including weblogs, sensors and social media streams, are weaving their way into the analytics mix, making it easier than ever to create connections that convert into actionable insights. By analyzing everything from consumer transactions to location data, organizations are realizing key business advantages and achieving a measurable impact on revenue.”
In contrast, while leading organisations are collecting every web site interaction and tracking every component through the supply chain in real time, too many SMEs are struggling to get even basic information about customer history and supplier performance. How many small businesses are still storing essential information within spreadsheets that are hard to share, inaccurate and provide limited day to day or strategic value? Or struggling to collaborate due to information disseminated across diverse systems and reports and an on-going reliance upon an administrator to create reports for management teams?
Today’s reality is not only that businesses need better information to answer day to day and strategic operational questions but also that individuals at every level of the business need to be empowered to make essential decisions – preferably in real time. Businesses of every size require trusted, comprehensive and real time insight.
Of course, even large organisations are struggling to pull together many of these diverse data sources. As the Forbes report confirms, “Silos of data can interfere with an organization’s ability to share data internally, and to get a clear picture of a consumer segment or business opportunity.” However, one of the clearest trends emerging is that the more business leaders understand data and are invested in data driven decision making, the more successful the business. According to Forbes, in organisations where big data is viewed as the single most important way to gain a competitive advantage, over half (51%) have CEOs who personally focus on big data initiatives.
So what should be driving the SME management team to get involved in data projects and claw back the advantages already gained by larger competitors? The answer is real time decision making. Today’s Business Intelligence (BI) tools are both highly graphical and powerful, which means that reports and dashboards, including alerts, can be provided to senior managers in real time to transform day to day operations. Using mobile BI, managers can get an at a glance dashboard and alert any time, any place to flag issues such as customer service problems or glitches in the supply chain. Individuals can then drill down into the detail to understand the underlying issues and take appropriate action.
This ability to present real-time information to support different operational needs can transform business performance and deliver that essential agility required to gain advantage over competitors of every size. The good news is that the information infrastructure is accessible and affordable – the challenge is to get senior management to buy into this vision to use data to drive tangible operational value.
Craig Buck, CRM and BI Sales Consultant
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