BPM Analytics

Automating data analysis is a must for small and medium businesses

In today’s highly digitised world, the benefits of data analysis are omnipresent. Whether you are getting personalised shopping recommendations, targeted ads, or route maps, data analysis is everywhere. Businesses are leveraging data analysis insights to drive revenues and customer experiences, which is why business analytics solutions are an in-demand service now. However, the approach to data analysis differs, and it likely impacts the results.

Understanding the SMB scenario

While large businesses rely on business analytics solutions, many Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) still rely on local spreadsheets, database queries, etc. The raw data in these organisations exist in different formats, is unstructured, unorganised, and spread across many silos. There is no centralised data storage or standard data formats. It makes data analysis a painstaking, manual task. Moreover, it is done independently in the various departments. Often every department works with a myopic vision limited to their silo. 

Data from every function is vital and has links to data from other functions. For example, a delayed supply chain could be the reason for delayed deliveries, affecting revenues. SMBs waste countless man-hours in manual data analysis owing to messy and incomplete data sources. Such data analysis does not provide tangible results as they do not consider all linked data in totality and will be inaccurate. Hence, SMBs doubt the veracity of data analysis and feel it is suitable only for large enterprises. Additionally, limited resources, high costs, and a lack of awareness about the benefits of automated data analysis prevent SMBs from adopting it. However, this scenario is slowly and steadily changing.

The case for data analysis automation

The objective of SMBs is to grow, and unless they automate their data analysis, they cannot succeed in this endeavour. Even if they do, they may struggle as their data is still unorganised and huge. They will be sitting on it and losing out on enormous insights, unable to unlock it. It will impact their competitiveness. AI-backed automation is a must for high-volume data analysis. According to the Zapier report: The 2021 state of business automation, 88% SMBs who have turned to automation say it has allowed them to compete with large companies. Also, 66% SMBs agree that automation is essential for their business. Interestingly, many said that the pandemic allowed them to pivot faster.

SMBs are automating manual data entries, lead management, document creation and organisation, and inventory management and distribution. This automation helps SMBs to move faster, close leads quickly, save time on repeated work, reduce human errors, and offer better customer service. When SMBs automate their data, it becomes centralised and organised, making related automated analysis easy and helping them achieve better results. For example, spend analytics tools can help them streamline their expenses in the right direction, while digital interactive solutions can help improve their customer experiences by leaps and bounds.

This perspective is further strengthened by this report titled, The IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Small and Medium-Sized Business 2022 Predictions. It says, “even before the pandemic, digitally determined SMBs were nearly twice as likely to report double-digit revenue growth than their digitally distraught counterparts”. However, it also states that it is applicable only where the SMBs plan company-wide, long-term goals. Overall, automating data analysis helps improve operational efficiency and productivity while reducing costs for businesses of any size. Perhaps, these benefits matter more for SMBs.

The real-time response advantage: SMBs need to act quickly to gain a competitive advantage to beat their large competitors. Only if they invest in automatic data analysis tools will they have access to real-time insights across a broad spectrum of business aspects to know where to act, what they should do, and how. Time is more than money in such scenarios for SMBs. It is about seizing the opportunity that can make or break them. For example, studying social media feeds may inform SMBs that a new product has become a hit with a specific section of their customer base. It can help create targeted ads or run campaigns around it to drive more sales. Also, customer retention is vital for SMBs as they grow, as acquiring new customers may not be as easy.

AI-backed informed decision-making: As the data gets accumulated, constant and accurate data analysis keeps happening automatically. Sometimes, unexpected insights, that tell stories about various aspects of the business. may bring new perspectives hitherto unknown to SMBs. These stories can help them understand the past, analyse the present, and plan for the future better. These insights can help SMBs decide on the right time to expand, in which region to expand, what products to launch, and when. Getting these decisions right is crucial for the success of SMBs, as failures may spell doom.

Anticipate the unexpected: Perhaps, larger organisations can survive the uncertainties better than SMBs. This was seen during the Covid-19 pandemic. Large organisations have the resources, deep pockets, and perhaps, with the backing of the insights, were already digitised enough to execute remote operations. Many SMBs perished. One alarming prediction from the IDC report quoted above is enough to push the remaining SMBs towards digitisation. It says “at least 20% of SMBs that survived COVID-19 will cease operations by 2025 as they cannot pivot fast enough to digitise their operations to meet customer demand”. So, it is a question of survival to anticipate, counter, and prepare for the future.

Watch your competitors: SMBs often lose out to their competitors only because they failed to identify or watch them. At times, smaller competitors can spring surprises. Use automated data analysis to track and understand which competitors are taking away your market shares on which products and in which regions, launching new products, or getting higher mentions or engagement on social media. Not losing out on market share, especially to smaller players is crucial for the survival of SMBs. A turnaround may be longer and more expensive than is affordable. 

Thus we can see that automating data analysis is crucial for SMBs as it lends them agility, responsiveness, business intelligence, and sustainability.

*For organizations on the digital transformation journey, agility is key in responding to a rapidly changing technology and business landscape. Now more than ever, it is crucial to deliver and exceed on organizational expectations with a robust digital mindset backed by innovation. Enabling businesses to sense, learn, respond, and evolve like a living organism, will be imperative for business excellence going forward. A comprehensive, yet modular suite of services is doing exactly that. Equipping organizations with intuitive decision-making automatically at scale, actionable insights based on real-time solutions, anytime/anywhere experience, and in-depth data visibility across functions leading to hyper-productivity, Live Enterprise is building connected organizations that are innovating collaboratively for the future.

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