No Excuses: Invest in Business Intelligence Right Now

With all the talk about new business intelligence solutions, “big data,” visualization, mobile BI, etc, you’d think BI is the number one tool moving the needle for business right now. But the reality is that only 22% of small & medium sized businesses currently utilize BI. What’s the hesitation?

We’ve already blogged about some of the most common BI bottlenecks when deploying, but what about just getting started in the first place? Here are the main reasons companies give for not getting started with a business intelligence solution.

1. I don’t need it.

No, you don’t need business intelligence. Plenty of companies get by, even thrive without any sort of BI. But as more and more of your competitors adopt a BI solution (22% currently use it, but another 27% intend to implement it in 2012), you’ll find it harder and harder to catch up to them.

The reason is simple: good BI increases revenue. In fact, new research from Nucleus Research has shown that certain analytics, especially Predictive Analytics, can show a return-on-investment (ROI) of over 1,000%. Yes, that’s $10 on every $1 you spend on BI. So no, you might not need BI right now, but as more and more SMBs adopt it, eventually you will. Do you really want to be playing catch up?

2. I don’t have time for it.

Two-thirds of small business owners in the UK work over 50 hours a week. It’s much the same, if not more in the US. With those long hours, stress, and headaches that come with running an SMB, we want you to add another level of monitoring, analysis, and software maintenance to your never-ending list of responsibilities?

We sure do. We already saw above that implementing a BI solution will return revenue. But a good BI solution will also return time. How many of those long hours are spent reconciling data entry errors? Or maybe you’re scrambling to generate reports and charts? Maybe it’s time spent figuring out how to evaluate your employees? Or, let’s be honest, it’s really spent wrestling with Excel isn’t it?

Business intelligence done right will save you time by automating a host of processes at your company. Also, for certain Software-as-a-Solution (SaaS) products like ours, it takes about 48 hours to get started, about one of which actually requires work on your end to configure the software. In many ways, the ROI of time is even greater than revenue.

3. My data quality is not up to snuff.

“Well what good is data analytics if I know my data is all wrong? Give me a month or two to get my data cleaned up, and then we’ll talk.”

Every company has mistakes in their data. In fact, some estimate that as much as 25% of data might be inaccurate at any given time, and 1 in 5 businesses do not even have data accuracy targets. So how is your company going to be different?

Data quality isn’t going to improve itself. It’s a process and will take diligence. However, it can be made as painless as possible with the right tools.

A good business intelligence tool can help you identify mild to critical data errors, flag them for you, and provide a “best guess” placeholder metric for missing values.

There’s no time like the present to start, because your company won’t ever stop generating new data and new data errors. And let’s be honest: left to your own devices and time, will you ever really stop to go back and fix all your data errors? Probably not, because it’s a huge pain to do it on your own. Data quality monitoring is something an algorithm can do faster and more accurately than you can, and it works.

4. We’re too busy hiring right now.

Your small business is growing, quickly. You’re hiring a new employee a week. You don’t have time to get everyone up to speed and on the same page with a new BI tool. But what if the BI tool can make it easier to onboard new employees?

A good business intelligence solution will not only create, but enforce processes for your new employees to follow from day one. Because of the data error monitoring built-in, new employees won’t have a chance to enter data in the wrong place. From the get-go, new hires will be guided in the data creation process automatically, without having to be micromanaged.

In fact, good BI will help you quickly see how new employees are acclimating to your work environment. Employee scorecards and nightly email activity summaries let you assess their performance, provide data so your can course correct them efficiently, and if needed, cut the cord with bad hires quicker.

In essence, your BI solution will speed the time between your newbies becoming productive veterans. You’re probably not too busy for that.

5. I’m too small.

Your company may feel too small to need a BI solution. With just a handful of employees, do you really need such deep analytics? The answer is, you’re not that small. 3/5 of businesses have between 1-4 employees, so you’re the norm, not the exception. As small businesses are the core of the US economy, with the largest growth potential, it stands to reason that SMBs should take advantage of business intelligence more than any other group. After all, no matter how small you are, there is still a lot of data being generated.

When a BI solution is built specifically for SMBs, there’s no business too small. Here is a case study on a very small business that still sees big ROI from BI.

6. It’s too expensive.

Well, have you seen our pricing page?

All out of excuses?