In today’s digitally powered business ecosystem, data has become the lifeblood of every forward-thinking, successful enterprise.
More specifically, data analytics (the key information gleaned from volumes of data) is now the primary weaponry that enables business leaders to outsmart their competition. And in such a highly disruptive, cutthroat business sphere, every bit of smart weaponry counts!
For SMEs, the good news is that while data analytics and advanced business intelligence tools were really only accessible to larger, more resourced companies in years past, this no longer holds. Thanks to advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (a subset of AI), powerful business intelligence (BI) and data analytics tools are now accessible to almost every business type and size – which will arguably make 2019 the year that every David (SME) can take on its Goliath!
So what are these products, I hear you ask…
Admittedly, business intelligence tools and data analytics have been around for a long time. As noted, however, they have traditionally been too expensive and complex for SMEs and smaller firms to access.
Now, technology giants such as Microsoft and Google are introducing transformative tools, such as Microsoft’s Power BI, that harness recent advancements in AI to provide customers with unparalleled business intelligence. By plugging into these tools, business owners can instantly access information that might have taken weeks or months of work (conducted by specialist programmers and number crunchers) to produce.
For example, you could ask (in English, not equations) to graph your gross profit from March against your salary expenses. This information will be provided to you instantly, with pinpoint accuracy! Moreover, even as a non-specialist, you can create infinite graphs, reports and dashboards on your own – which truly reveal the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities within your business.
For those who don’t enjoy the technicalities of number crunching and financial speak, the best news is that every query/request can be given in English, in normal sentences. Again, this puts unparalleled power, and information, into the hands of business owners, and eliminates the need to devote resources to information gathering and technical number crunching.
Unsurprisingly, Google and Microsoft are linking these business intelligence tools to digital voice assistants such as Cortana, Alexa and Siri – so that in the not-too-distant future you can simply ask for information, without typing a word.
Levelling the playing field
While much of today’s enterprise technology tools have made their way from big business downwards, slowly becoming more accessible to smaller companies and even consumers, new business intelligence tools such as Power BI are arguably moving backwards… from mainstream, consumer access up towards the larger, most established enterprises.
This undoubtedly presents opportunities for small, agile players to quickly harness the innovations within the BI space to leapfrog their bigger rivals and gain market share. Indeed, with such instant access to business statistics, HR trends, profit margins, customer behaviour and much, much more, SMEs have an opportunity to leverage business intelligence (data) to make bold, ambitious moves in 2019…