So you're ready to take the big data and business intelligence leap, huh? Great! That puts you ahead of the 82 percent of small businesses and 43 percent of mid-size businesses that don't use business intelligence solutions. Good for you!
However, jumping into business intelligence can be tricky if you're trying it out for the first time. Here are seven tips that might help.
- DO start small (don’t assume that the most ambitious approach will give the best payoff).
SAS Institute experts explain that organizations should look for the “smaller, easier-to measure applications as pilot opportunities, and then build momentum off initial successes.” Look for projects that directly impact the bottom line by generating profits or reducing costs; those projects will get the most exposure and approval.
Software consultant Tony Fisher used this analogy:
I have this neighbor who has a fantastic workshop and a wide array of top-of-the-line tools. But his workshop is always a disaster with tools everywhere, and the debris from past jobs everywhere, and no sense of order to his tools. He had an inspired solution to this problem: build a bigger workshop. Now he has a big workshop that is always a disaster.
In other words, start small and get your data in order before diving into a bigger project.
- DON'T assume that expensive = better.
Entrepreneur Laiza King notes that many SMBs are dazzled by expensive enterprise solutions. Those systems promise technology that can scale to thousands of users after a big up-front payment. But maybe you only need 10 or 100 users. A simpler, easier-to-manage system might be more successful in the long run.
- DO know what you want to learn.
Collecting data just to have data doesn’t do anything for your business. You should be collecting data to get answers. So ask questions like, “How can we improve customer retention?” or “Where are the best opportunities to expand our business?” and then collect data toward that end. “Always look for a way to create a specific and smaller goal,” writes research firm Research Optimus.
- DON’T delay “until the time is right.”
Waiting around for “the right moment” will set you back. IBM general manager John Mason says, “It's an erroneous notion among small business owners and decision-makers that big data is too complex or something only big companies can afford to try out. Even the name — the “big” in big data — can seem off-putting. But it’s not as tough to dive into big data as small companies might think, and the payoff can be significant.”
- DO consolidate, consolidate, consolidate.
A recent study by Aberdeen found that the average business intelligence user references 30 data sources on a regular basis. If that user is logging in and out of multiple accounts to collect that data and unite it in a single place, that’s a lot of wasted time. Instead, use one single collection point, or set your data sources to automatically feed into a single hub.
- DO use the cloud.
Costs and infrastructure requirements are less in the cloud; you can access data from anywhere you have an internet connection, and security is taken care of for you.
- DO leverage what you already have.
According to big data firm Contemporary Analysis, many organizations delay big data and business intelligence projects because they think they don't have enough data. “The truth is, most companies have enough data for predictive analytics, especially if they have been in business for more than three years,” they write. Plus, BI relies on historical data, so if you can use the data you've already been collecting, that saves time, too.
If you're ready to take the leap, contact us today about a free 30-day trial for GoCanvas. We'll help you turn your paper forms into mobile apps and get you on the road to collecting the data you need to make informed decisions about your business. Already a GoCanvas customer? You've already got access to data; we can help you turn it into actionable insights with GoCanvas Business Insights.