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2011 was a huge year for Business Intelligence and 2012 is looking to be even bigger. It seems that data intelligence has been removed from its ivory tower and democratized to the masses. Not only that, BI is not just a tool for huge corporations anymore. The results have been proven with the big boys, and now everyone wants in on Moneyball. Business Intelligence has never been more affordable, accessible, and accurate.

And yet you’re not using it.

Small businesses that utilize BI are still in the minority at only 24% as of 2009, and of those only a fraction are doing it pervasively (or even well). A recently study of SMBs found only 26% of employees even had access to Key Performance Metric (KPI) data. 26%? What are the rest of the employees looking at?

Blindfold

SMBs Think They Do BI Well Enough

We have a feeling that many SMBs don’t think they really need BI, or more likely, they have enough. You hear the proclamations all the time:

  • “I know what all my employees are doing.”
  • “Excel’s enough for me.”
  • “I’ve set it up with macros and pivot tables so I can see everything.”
  • “Look, we’re not big enough to really spend any time on digging into our data.”
  • “It’s on our list of things to do.”

Yeah right. SMBs have a ton more data than they think they do. Look at our average client’s dashboard:

Activity Dashboard

Job Orders, Submissions, Placements, Interview, Sendouts. Now multiply that by each employee they have. Track that across 12 months. Break it out by each of their clients. Do SMBs capture all this in Excel? If so, how usable is that 200MB spreadsheet that ten different employees open and edit together?

The data set that SMBs work with is a lot bigger and a lot more complex than they think.

“Big Data” for SMBs

Big Data was one of the biggest buzzwords of 2011 in BI. In short, it refers to the ability to capture, sort, and analyze data from your company from as many sources as possible, in as close to real-time as you can get. Here’s a very simple explanation of Big Data.

For SMBs, “Big Data” isn’t about capturing every last scrap of data. It’s not about recording every tweet about your company, or every visit to your site, or every like on Facebook. The corporations with interns for interns have the time to do that; you have a business to run. “Big Data” for SMBs is just getting the most out of the data you have. That means:

  • Monitoring your Data Quality.
  • Tracking your KPIs.
  • Not tracking non-KPIs.
  • Providing access to this data to everyone in the company.

Trust us, that is more than enough data to keep you busy. Moreover, it’s more than enough data, if done right, to give you an edge over the 70% of companies that don’t do BI at all. Imagine you can track and analyze where a lead came from, how long it took to close, how many calls/interviews it took to close, how much it was worth, who closed it, for every piece of business in your system. Think of how well you could predict and run your business.

That’s “Big Data” to you, and that’s a huge win.

Want to ditch Excel and do your data right? Start here.

Samuel Clemens
Sam is founder and chief of product & marketing for InsightSquared. Previously, Sam was VP Product at HubSpot, VP Product at BzzAgent, and on the founding team at Elance.com. His background also includes venture capital with Greylock Partners, the Algorithms group at Amazon.com, and management consulting with Booz Allen Hamilton. Sam has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Applied Math from Yale. In his off time he dives shipwrecks in the New England area.
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