Not too long ago, business intelligence (BI) was an exclusive domain of big companies that could afford high costs of software integration, building data centers on-premises, hiring qualified IT specialists and consultants.
Although small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) drive the majority of businesses and economic development worldwide, when it comes to the adoption of BI and analytics SMEs are less prepared to embrace the technological changes than larger companies. According to industry experts, one of the main reasons for this is the lack of financial resources.
Nevertheless, the wind of change is blowing through the BI world. The same hi-tech progress that made the entire Internet fit into your phone has also decreased the cost of entry to the BI market. Dresner Advisory Services reported that small companies had the highest rate of BI adoption in 2018. This year, the trend has increased further.
Where SMEs are most interested
When investing in BI solutions SMEs aim to squeeze the most juice out of a dime spent. The key objectives that the smaller companies seek to improve revolve around making better decisions in executive management, operational efficiency, sales and marketing.
Where smaller companies differ from their larger counterparts is a more rigorous and prioritized focus on customer targeting. The power of BI helps SMEs to improve the quality of services, hold on to existing clients by tuning in to their needs better, and expand their customer base to eventually become more profitable.
“[SMEs] are more likely to prioritize ‘growth in revenues’ and increased competitive advantage, making SMEs more strategic and outwardly focused,” said Howard Dresner, the founder of Dresner Advisory Services.
Constrained by budgets, smaller companies are more interested in getting open-source cloud-computing software. If open-source is not a possibility, a subscription-based model with free trial options is the preferred strategy for SMEs due to lower entry costs and lower risks. This leads us to the next point.
Challenges with BI implementation
For SMEs getting a right BI solution can be a challenging task that requires a careful approach. As much as smaller companies wish they could get a full range of BI services, due to budgetary and time constrains they are forced to pay more attention to more fundamental activities, such as reporting, dashboards, tracking KPIs and extracting as much actionable insights as possible.
Another big challenge for SMEs is a lack of skilled workers. Big companies with larger budgets often recruit best BI engineers and administrators on the market. Furthermore, popular BI solutions from large vendors, such as IBM, SAP and Oracle, require full-time IT staff to maintain the system.
Therefore, instead of picking the biggest name on the market to get the job done, the best advice is to conduct thorough research and implement a step-by-step approach, such as SAP’s “crawl, walk, run” method. SMEs should adopt BI in smaller steps, building success upon these stages.
The transfer of expertise is also a crucial factor for smaller businesses, which cannot afford to put extra IT personnel on payroll. That is why highly skilled experts in business operations and BI, who specialize in specific, tailor-made services and personnel training, such as Centida, are a better alternative to larger IT integration focused companies that provide a more general one-size-fits-all approach.
Centida is one of a very few specialized niche firms that follow the principle of “from finance practitioners to finance practitioners.” Our advisory services focus on the improvement of operational, day-to-day activities in finance and controlling departments. Centida consultants are not simply IT-specialists; they successfully combine the science of BI with the art of finance.