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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

How SMEs Are Democratizing Access to Their Data

Maneesh Sharma
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Maneesh Sharma
No matter the size of the enterprise, access to critical business information and integrated reporting is important to market success. Small to medium sized enterprises (SME) should not discount the importance of Business Intelligence (BI). Most SME business owners make decisions based on a best guess or on their perception of business stability, and even if the owner understands the value of a Business Intelligence (BI) system, he/she believes the value of such a system is not worth the investment expense. In truth, the SME does not have to empty its coffers to purchase a large, overwhelming system. Some new Business Intelligence (BI) products offer web based, and even hosted services without the expense of installation and maintenance, making sophisticated business.

SMEs face three key challenges that impede their ability to make good, data-driven decisions. The first challenge is ensuring the integrity of information. An Economist Intelligence Unit study revealed that more than 70 percent of companies say that accurate and timely data improves their customer relations and sales processes. In fact, the study found that data accuracy was reported as “very important,” garnering nearly twice as much interest as the level of detail within that data.

The second challenge is democratizing the availability of information; broader access to better information drives better decisions. And the third challenge is controlling the cost of ownership by reducing the IT resources required to successfully deploy and maintain BI solutions. Pre-integration with other business management systems, Customer Relationship Management and pre-packaging are great ways to control deployment and ongoing running costs.

Business Intelligence (BI) tools are just as valuable for small businesses as for large. Whilst most SME's cannot afford many of the core BI vendor solutions, there are many vendors who are now offering BI tools specifically designed for small businesses. To overcome these challenges, many BI vendors are providing solutions provide a comprehensive set of offerings specially packaged and priced for SMEs. The solutions provide capabilities that help companies ensure information integrity, transform decision making, and optimize business performance.

Although awareness levels still need to increase, a few SMEs that are currently deploying BI are using it for diverse applications within their organizations that go beyond traditional reporting and data warehousing. Best practices for successful BI implementations have now evolved significantly and most implementers and vendors provide considerable insight into these best practices. Right from information requirements survey, data readiness analysis, information flow analysis to more implementation specific details like data extraction and transform studies etc. SME should opt for BI solution that allows quick implementation using best practices.

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