Empowering SMBs with Reporting and Analytics
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have traditionally been slow to adopt analytics and reporting strategies — with SMB leaders often expressing frustration over their limited access to data and insights compared to larger competitors.
There are a number of reasons why many SMBs have not fully embraced data analytics (or business intelligence – BI). For one, they may lack a scalable technology infrastructure or skilled workforce. The quality and availability of their data may be low because information is stored in various systems and formats. The cost of implementing BI may be perceived to be too high compared to its benefits … and much more.
The BI Market – Closing the Gap Between Big Business & SMBs
According to some analysts, the global BI market is projected to reach $43 billion by 2028, compared to $24 billion in 2021. However, the adoption rate of BI in SMBs remains low at just 26%, in contrast to 80% in companies with over 5,000 employees. These findings clearly highlight the significant gap in BI usage between larger corporations and SMBs.
So, how does one close the gap? While mindset can be a difficult obstacle to overcome, technology and budget constraints are much more manageable these days. Most business functions now rely on Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions where software vendors actually operate and manage the software for their customers. This levels the playing field for SMBs and enables them to automate core business processes like processing orders, managing inventory, tracking suppliers, and so much more without additional hardware and human resource investments.
On the flipside, though, the data generated by these SaaS-supported processes can be overwhelming, complex, and expensive to collect. This is where modern analytics and reporting platforms come into play. SMBs that have undergone digital transformation are already generating data related to their business operations. With the right BI platform, they can extract valuable insights that align with their business objectives. Even better, the right BI platform may be available as a SaaS solution, further reducing the need by SMBs to invest in additional resources to support their analysis and reporting efforts.
Reporting & Analytics – Capabilities That Matter for SMBs and Others
The core capabilities of a reporting and analytics platform that both SMBs and large enterprises alike can benefit from include features like …
- Data Integration: BI applications gather data from various sources, such as databases, spreadsheets, cloud services, and other data repositories. This process involves data extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) to consolidate and standardize data for analysis.
- Data Storage: Today’s modern analytics and reporting platforms use a data hub to store, align and manage large volumes of both structured and unstructured data. This allows for optimized querying and reporting, enabling faster access to information.
- Reporting and Analytics: BI applications provide robust reporting and analytical capabilities. Users can create ad-hoc reports and build customized views of data to analyze trends, track key performance indicators (KPIs), and monitor business performance. Some industry-focused vendors like Silvon even provide pre-built templates and reports to facilitate business analysis and reporting for their SMB clients.
- Self-Service BI: Many modern analytics and reporting applications offer self-service features, allowing business users to explore data, create their reports, and conduct analyses without relying on IT or data experts. This empowers business users to derive insights independently.
- Data Mining and Predictive Analytics: BI applications with advanced capabilities enable data mining and predictive analytics. These features use statistical algorithms and machine learning to discover patterns and forecast future outcomes based on historical data.
- Data Governance and Security: BI applications often include features for data governance, ensuring data accuracy, consistency, and compliance with data policies. Additionally, they implement security measures to control data access and protect sensitive information.
- Collaboration and Sharing: Today’s analytics and reporting platforms facilitate collaboration among users by allowing them to share reports, insights, and dashboards. This promotes knowledge sharing and improves decision-making across departments.
- Real-Time Analytics: Some analytics and reporting platforms also provide real-time data processing and analytics capabilities. This allows businesses to monitor live data streams and respond quickly to changing conditions or emerging opportunities.
While the capabilities of BI tools may vary, it is essential to understand how to leverage BI to one’s advantage. Small- to mid-sized business owners can utilize BI to perform tasks that are typically associated with larger enterprises, such as analyzing consumer behavior, predicting market trends, forecasting sales, and enhancing customer experience.
By embracing business reporting and analytics, SMBs can be in a better position to identify growth opportunities, enhance operational resilience, stay competitive, and foster innovation – all while closing the gap on BI adoption with their larger competitors.