Over the past several years, it would have been near impossible for business owners and leaders to ignore the media’s infatuation with Big Data.
Countless articles enthused about the staggering volume of data being created (now standing at 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created daily), and research papers extolled the many potential benefits of data for governments, businesses and consumers. Yet for the majority of business owners/managers, and particularly for those operating outside of the IT sphere, it was hype that it had very little direct consequence for daily business operations. And for good reason.
Although Big Data was being championed from many corners, the cost of effectively mining and extracting value from a business’s data set was prohibitively high. Moreover, the tools, skills and implementation to do so were hard to find, as well as being pricey. Indeed, for many businesses, this would require Data Analysts or Actuarial Scientists … Not something that mid-market companies could afford.
Arguably, this is the primary reason for the historically slow uptake of Business Intelligence and Data Analytics within the local business environment.
Changing the game
Fortunately (or unfortunately for some), that scenario has changed dramatically. With the development and introduction of new and highly accessible software, paired with the Cloud computing revolution, business owners from all spheres are now able to harness robust, powerful and affordable tools to draw extremely insightful data from their organisations. Armed with this data, they can make far more informed and impactful decisions and at a fraction of the cost of legacy methods.
So where are these tools and platforms found?
Today, there are many Business Intelligence and Data Analytics tools that can provide transformative insights into your business. As it stands, some of the most robust and cost effective tools come from Microsoft, with the likes of PowerBI and Flow available in most of the business and enterprise versions of Office 365, etc.
By working with the right integration partners, these tools can extract valuable data across your company’s data sets and databases to analyse information in real-time and thereby harness the formidable power of Business Intelligence. This can be achieved regardless of the size of your organisation, or the sector in which it operates.
Importantly, such tools will answer questions about your business that you may never have even thought to ask. They often create the most pivotal questions for you and then answer them with the irrefutable power of data. For example, you will better understand your customers’ buying habits, staff productivity, and which are your most lucrative divisions/products. You will discover efficiencies that remove burdensome overheads and streamline costs. You might even fundamentally change the strategic direction of your business.
Too much of a stretch, you say? Not at all …
By harnessing Data Analytics, many business owners/leaders have actually realized that what they believe their business really does (in theory), turned out to be very different (in reality).
For example, let’s look at a software development business that specialized in custom software solutions. They would build niche software solutions that typically cost a considerable amount of money to deploy. Taking into account that the capital outlay for their clients was prohibitive, they launched an in-house finance solution, turning the Capex model into an ongoing (annuity) Opex model. Their focus, however, was always on their core business - software development.
Yet once the software company implemented Business Intelligence solutions and explored their data, they very quickly realized that they were, in fact, more of a finance house than a software development company. Notably, the analytics and Business Intelligence revealed that their company makes far higher returns, and scales far better, from financing their software than from selling their software. As a result, they have subsequently expanded their financial offering far beyond just their in-house software packages - to include 3rd party software and even hardware, which has significantly accelerated their business growth in a very short space of time.
In essence, the Business Intelligence tools were able to quickly separate their perceived business (software development) from their actual business (a financed opex platform) and thereby accelerate business growth and profitability.
Brian Timperley is the Managing Director and Co-Founder: Turrito Networks and MD at Dial a Nerd.