By: Deepak Ghodke, Country Manager India, Tableau Software
iWith more than 1.3 million SMEs in India, employing almost 40% of India’s workforce, small and medium enterprises form the pillar of the Indian economy. However, this huge segment contributes only close to 17% to the country’s GDP.
For the country to make global progress, it is critical for Indian SMEs to be able to build successful businesses, reach their maximum potential and drive growth.
With the recent advent of disruptive technologies like cloud computing and big data making headway into enterprises of all sizes, the field is now leveled and SMEs too are able to build businesses based on technology and boost productivity and efficiency.
In the past the Business Intelligence (BI) industry primarily catered to the large enterprises that could afford a full suite of software and a large team of number crunching data scientists. But in the last decade, the industry has evolved, technology has improved, and BI software has become more lightweight and powerful. What this means is that business intelligence solutions are not just accessible to large enterprises and multi-nationals, but also to small and medium-sized firms.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that want to scale new heights would do well to become more data-driven.
HARNESSING THE POWER OF ANALYTICS
Seek a tool that can make anyone a data analyst
Increasingly, good business intelligence tools are being created, bringing high-powered, in-depth analytics capabilities to the common man. This data democratization lets anyone see, explore and ask questions of the information harnessed. For small businesses, where each employee wears many hats, it’s about making data analytics easy enough to fit into his or her job.
Historically, and to a degree today, these tools have required some programming knowledge to use, serving as a barrier to their adoption by small businesses. It’s not realistic to ask all entrepreneurs or small business owners to learn to code. They are, after all, worrying about attending to customers, managing staff and fixing the cash register.
Advancements in the power of business intelligence software have made a huge difference. The best business intelligence solutions for small businesses are usually those that do not require any coding knowledge for building dashboards and exploring data. SMEs should find a business solution that has analytical functions and best practices built in, so that they can spend their time examining the data that matters.
Speedy analysis is critical
With the old model of business intelligence, companies often relied on IT teams to crunch data and generate reports. Coupled with slower, less powerful software, this meant that the data analytics process could take weeks. This is no longer the case.
The human brain is wired to process information visually, making visualization one of the best ways to explore and understand data, particularly when presenting data to customers, investors or other stakeholders.
Find a solution that makes visualizations simple, with the best design practices built-in, so that you can focus on your data instead of formatting a chart or selecting a color for a trend line.
Rely on the cloud but not exclusively
Small business owners should seek out a solution that’s flexible – letting them work in the cloud, as well as with data on-premises, or a combination of the two. Working in the cloud has major benefits for small businesses.
The infrastructure deployment goes down, accessibility is near universal and the security is top-notch. Yet, at other times, an on-premises solution may make more sense.
SMEs should look for a solution that doesn’t restrict them from relying fully on cloud computing and that also allows for storing data on premises. Many businesses pursue a hybrid of cloud and on-premises setup to support a variety of needs. Small businesses need to make data-driven decisions all the time and the solution should be flexible enough to allow that.
NEW HORIZONS: A DATA-DRIVEN CULTURE
While SMEs continue to face challenges, such as competition with bigger players with more resources, business intelligence technology can help put SMEs on a more level playing field.
A data-driven culture in businesses is in sight. At the end of the day, big data is not just for big businesses. With the right business intelligence solutions in place, SMEs can take advantage of the same insights available to their larger counterparts.