BI solutions when done properly help SMBs compete with medium and large enterprises by offering a level playing field whether in understanding who are its best customers? Which are the most profitable products or services? Which are the most efficient locations? How much it cost to launch a new product or a territory? Which marketing activity is offering the highest or the lowest return? It offers insights into the cost-of-acquiring a new customer and how those costs are related to ‘customer gain or loss. In short, it removes hunches and hindsight out of decision making and offers a logical data based answers.
[However, one of the recent studies reported, smaller the company, the less likely they are to use or plan to use BI solutions. While 33% of midsize businesses currently use and 28% plan to use BI solutions, among small businesses, just 16% currently use and 16 % plan to use BI solutions.]
So, what got changed in the “big boy’s crystal ball” that now makes it attractive for the small and medium business? the reason being BI are more affordable and easy to use, newer technologies such as open source, cloud, in-memory technology, Web 2.0 interfaces, and new visualization technology are making BI tools much more friendly to SMBs.
For the current discussion, let’s look at why SMBs are increasingly looking at Cloud and Saas based BI solutions to overcome their data mining problem.
Affordable and Easy to Use – A typical BI solution, even in the last few years, was priced way above what a small and medium business could afford, add to this the complication of deploying and managing it, just forget it. Then came the Cloud and SaaS based BI solutions, BIRST, Indicee (Sales related BI), GoodData, Kognito, PivotLink… which “pulled the rug out from under” the BI majors, SMBs found these solutions easy to use and affordable, they could save on cost of deployment and managing servers and network connections, many of the solutions were so easy they could be deployed with or without a consultant. A typical cost per user of a Lite version could be as low as $25 and for Professional and Enterprise versions in the range of $75-90. Tibco Spotfire and Tableau Software, for example, offer no-cost and low-cost tools that let users develop and share easy-to-understand data visualizations. BIRST, Adaptive Insights, and PivotLink are among a handful of on-demand BI systems that can subscribe to online.
Don’t need a full time IT professional to manage it – any BI solution that requires a full-time resource would be unaffordable for a small and medium enterprise, self serve analytics which are part of most of the SaaS and Cloud based BI solution are most attractive options.
Mobile based workforce – with a major portion or even a part of SMB organization being mobile, they had little use for desktop or laptop based BI solutions, they looked for Cloud based mobile solutions which offered mobility at no extra cost.
The challenge for SMBs is acquiring BI software on slim technology budgets, then deploying and maintaining systems with limited IT support, Cloud and SaaS based BI solutions answer this call.
Let us hear from your experience, are you a SMB using a BI solution, let’s know how you are doing?