Do small businesses really need BI?

The need for small and mid-size businesses to have accurate and up-to-date reports at their fingertips is no different to their bigger counterparts in the commercial world. Now more than ever, small business owners need to monitor costs closely and ensure that they know exactly which products/services are profitable in their business to ensure that they remain competitive, stay in business, and identify opportunities for growth. In the absence of large IT budgets and specialised BI staff, however, an affordable solution that offers immediate return on investment is crucial.
Most accounting applications cannot provide reports in a meaningful format for manipulation and decision-making, resulting in hours of manual report preparation and repetitive data extracts every month. A BI solution that draws data from the accounting package into a pre-formatted Excel report, automatically and on demand, eliminates this ‘loose’ spreadsheet use. Users can then view, manipulate and analyse trusted information in the familiar environment of Excel, a powerful decision support tool when integrated with the right applications and tools and when used within a structured framework. Automating spreadsheets and producing meaningful reports results in time-savings and increased productivity that go a long way to reducing the load on the business owner, financial accountant or bookkeeper.

Ensuring that decisions are made based on accurate, accessible and timeous financial information will allow smart small businesses to not only survive but flourish in times of economic instability. Business intelligence for small businesses is no longer a nice to have, but an absolute must.