Until recently, SMBs were priced out of using BI (Business Intelligence), which was used exclusively by companies with huge budgets and enough staff to build BI teams. However, this has changed over the last few years due to the explosion in Internet and computing speeds. Today, any SMB can afford a Business Intelligence solution.

What is Business Intelligence and why implement it? The term refers to the technical and procedural infrastructure that processes data produced by a company’s activities. The term is broad and includes data mining, descriptive analytics, performance benchmarking, and process analysis. The aim of BI is to take the enormous loads of data and present easy-to-digest performance trends and measures that will lead to better management decisions.

This is how Business Intelligence can enhance your small business and help gain a more competitive edge.

1. Fast access to data

BI software can help provide a better view of your business operations in (near) real time. You can use these tools to process both your analytical and transactional workloads in memory, gain better insights into your customer data, and eventually identify demographic opportunities and increase the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

These tools usually integrate with Excel, which lets you select, import, and manipulate data without having to predefine queries, making the whole process much quicker. The company is then able to improve customer service, make better decisions, while the sales team can focus on what they do best.

2. Improving business operations through actionable insights

The actionable you can be on your data, the more fluid you can be. For example. PDZA (part of an independent municipal corporation Metro Parks Tacoma that manages the city’s facilities, zoological services, recreation, and park) has improved operations thanks to gaining the ability to predict attendance rates better. Once they were able to know how many visitors to expect on weekends, they could manage staff better and save money.

Business intelligence in the telecom industry has been doing the same for a while, bringing together data from multiple data points, and allowing telecommunications companies to anticipate problems and enhance their day-to-day operations.

Even a list of applications for these insights would be far larger than this article and it really comes down to the imagination of the business owner.

3. Anticipate objections and personalize your sales

Business intelligence is about understanding the other business you’re trying to work with better. In order to be prepared for objections specific a company’s situation, sales teams research this information, because it’s very useful to know if the company you’re trying to sell to is having a personnel turnover, cutting budgets, about to merge, or showing decreased sales numbers. There are so many other things to for in a company in order to evaluate their health (outside of in-depth business intelligence).

In order to personalize a sales strategy, it’s a good idea to do business research. This is good not only because you’ll be more prepared for objections, but you’ll appear more genuine and sincere in understanding all the obstacles they have to overcome to move on with the sale. The sales team should have a long list of things to look for, and the more things on the list match up, the more valuable data you have from your BI – data you can use to help them realize how great of a candidate you actually are.

4. Create a more effective business model

Business intelligence enables you to draw up a different business model based on the data that your company simply couldn’t find or read properly. Business intelligence is more important today than ever, and it’s because oversaturation. Every market today is saturated, due to the continued growth of eCommerce and the Internet. You want to buy something? Whatever you’re looking for, there are many options and are only a click away. This is why business owners have to make smart decisions, try to find out where to put their marketing funds, and know where to invest in infrastructure.

Without Business Intelligence, you can’t know that, and will be left alone trying to find the light switch in the dark. BI software aggregates data across your business portfolio, showing you the big picture. This enables you to create a business model that’s more effective and become a leader in your niche market, all thanks to powerful analytics. Luckily, these analytics are at our reach now, thanks to business intelligence software that most SMBs can now afford.

5. Building a brand in a complex and competitive retail environment

Data that comes from good business intelligence allows marketers to react and plan faster and more efficiently throughout the entire decision-making process. In the context of CPG (consumer packaged goods) marketing, this data provides insights professionals to find creative and original ways of growing the business through cross-promotion strategies with complementing product categories, and similar initiatives.

Before the 1990s, all retailers and brands had to worry about were catalog sales and brick-and-mortar stores where the orders were placed by telephone or snail mail. Now, we have the Internet, and with its advent and the emergence of different retail formats (such as dollar stores and club warehouses), the retail field has evolved, and now it includes more different channels. Only brands with the best measurements will be able to get valuable insight into human behavior, and use it to build strong brands.

Business intelligence brings several things to the table – improved practicality and greater reliability. When it comes to practicality, it’s easy for you to focus on truly important matters due to the graphical layout in which all data is displayed. Also, Business Intelligence enables you to look at your business through reliable numbers and not fear that there’s something you forgot about.

Closing Word

As you can see, BI can provide you with many advantages that will enable you to gain a competitive edge in today’s fierce market, and stand out from the sea of businesses in an oversaturated market.


featured image credit: unsplash.com

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James D. Burbank has spent more than 15 years in marketing, working with small businesses in some of world's most exotic markets. He is currently spending time between Europe and Australia, blogging about business.

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