Easy-to-Implement Business Intelligence Methods for SMBs
Business Intelligence (BI) tools aren’t just for big enterprises. SMBs these days have access to the latest BI and predictive analytics software for determining consumer trends and staying competitive. Not only are BI systems accessible but they’re also easier to use than most companies realize. We’ll go over some top BI methods to help kick start your data mining endeavors.
- Focus on ALL Data Points
BI collects data from various fields, including customer, employee, sponsor, and supply chain data. SMBs have an instinctual tendency to focus the bulk of their efforts on customer data, since that is where the revenue generation lies. However, SMBs really should give just as much attention to the other areas listed since those also affect company finances.
Employee data, for instance, sheds insight regarding staff turnover. Don’t think this has anything to do with finances? One study revealed that replacing a single employee can cost as much as 213% of that job position’s annual salary.
Yes, customer data is important, but data from other areas should be given equal consideration because it all affect’s the company’s overhead, time, and resources one way or another.
- Let the BI System Do the Number Crunching
Excel is such a universal program, and it’s also very inexpensive. Excel certainly has its place, but data recordkeeping shouldn’t be one of them. Most BI systems come with customized tools that automatically collect and tally the data. The keyword here is “automatically.” Excel requires manual input, putting your whole data integrity at the mercy of human error. All it takes is one incorrect input, a duplicate data, or entering a digit into a wrong cell to compromise the data quality.
Most BI tools will keep the records updated as new data pours in. Leave the work to the automation. Never make Excel the BI system’s default program.
- Determine the Optimal Metrics
BI tools are about gathering data that goes beyond the usual like sales numbers. With BI innovations, you can gather data about very specific insights. Instead of just overall sales, you can acquire data regarding sales according to various breakdowns, such as sales by gender, geo-location, new versus returning customers, etc. You can even double on the specifics, such as sales from returning, female millennial customers that visited your site within the last 30 days.
Establish company goals and use that as the basis for determining your metrics. If your goal is to increase trial offer signups, for example, then metrics may include gender, age range, and income level of customers that signed up for your last trial offer.
- Optimize for Mobile
Most BI systems are customizable. Personalize your system to make it mobile-friendly. This is a must considering the explosion of the BYOD work environment, which has proliferated among enterprises and SMBs alike.
Design data storytelling charts and graphs that can easily be read and modified on a mobile phone. Give authorized users access to the data through their own personal device while also enabling best security practices, such as instant lockout or measures that prevent data from being saved onto devices.
- Customized Dashboard
Personalize the BI dashboard so that it only shows relevant metrics. Be sure the layout is easy to read and is decipherable by all authorized members. Avoid too much text and numbers from appearing on the screen. Instead, rely heavily on visuals like graphs and charts, both of which can be generated automatically.
For best readability, all the information should be able to fit on a single screen without any scrolling. There should also be no more than two chart types, and the use of no more than three colors for each chart. Above all, aim for the best visualization, NOT the best-looking. The dashboard is about conveying information, not about being visually impressive.
Finally, be sure to provide context; if one chart shows the month’s sales figures, then the second chart should show the previous month’s or something similar. Sales figures and all other data for that matter mean nothing without a reference of comparison.
People starting a small business today have a tremendous advantage. They have access to sophisticated BI tools that were only available to mega enterprises just a decade ago. BI solutions level the playing field; it only makes sense then to make big data a priority.
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Kalyan Banga193 Posts
I am Kalyan Banga, a Post Graduate in Business Analytics from Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta, a premier management institute, ranked best B-School in Asia in FT Masters management global rankings. I have spent 6 years in field of Analytics.