These days, everyone’s talking about business agility. Wikipedia defines it as the ability of a business to adapt rapidly and cost-efficiently in response to changes in the business environment. Leading organizations realize that in a volatile business environment, the capacity to be agile determines whether the company will be able to survive and thrive in the market. Cloud computing has become a major driver of business agility, enabling IT resources to be scaled up or down in an automated way at a moment’s notice in response to internal or external requirements and to save money when resources aren’t in demand. Business intelligence is also a driver of business agility, giving decision-makers massive insight into company data and the ability to quickly make predictions and decisions that influence performance.
The combination of these technologies in the form of cloud BI is becoming quite popular. A survey from TechTarget in 2013 revealed that one-third of companies have cloud components in their BI program. The companies adopting cloud BI are driven by 4 things: reduced cost, flexibility, speed of implementation, and reduced maintenance of hardware/software. Let’s examine these drivers in more detail:
1. Reduced Cost
While many hosted BI solutions offer cloud BI licensing as an option, many cloud BI solutions are SaaS (software as a service) solutions – applications that are hosted outside of your company and accessed by users via the internet…
There is evidence SMBs are ahead of the curve when it comes to performance management. A 2010 Aberdeen Group study found that mid-sized companies outperformed their larger counterparts during the most recent economic slow-down and are more likely to use performance metrics pervasively throughout the organization. If you’re one of these businesses – or would like to be – you can cultivate a culture of fact-based decision-making by making the move from manual tracking of KPIs to the widespread use of business intelligence. BI is not just for large enterprises anymore!
Deploying BI is a big decision for any company, but especially for SMBs with limited resources and budget constraints. These are the top 3 considerations for SMBs starting BI projects in the next 12 months:
1) Spreadsheets – continue using Excel or stop? Excel is still the most pervasive analytics tool in the world and also the most commonly used database – especially for planners – because it is relatively easy to use and inexpensive. The good news is that there is a way to marry the best part of Excel into a BI infrastructure. In such a system, Excel is used for analysis and is directly connected to the reporting database so you can automate your reporting in a familiar environment. (Want to learn more? Click here.)
2) Your vendor approach – best of breed or single vendor? In the best of breed approach, you would plug the best product for your specific task into your BI stack. Smaller niche vendors are eager to provide the best products and services at a more affordable price than megavendors. Going with a single stack can be expensive and locks you in, but it does offer you access to a suite of products that should work together if your needs change/grow in the future.
3) Deployment strategy – SaaS or hosted?