Business Intelligence is necessary for small business, and doesn’t need to be confusing.
When I started my career in Business Intelligence, only big companies with big IT budgets and large IT departments dared an implementation. Nearly twenty years later, lots of technological changes and advancements have transpired. Everyone knows about these changes, they’re relatively obvious; from low cost high power computers to mobilization, to social media and more... tech is broad reaching and prolific.
Much like the realization of the mid 1990’s that a business must be on the web, to be taken seriously and compete, the same realization is being made by small businesses with respect to Business Intelligence. Although technology and marketing has made it possible for small business to seriously consider a Business Intelligence solution, the sheer number of options and confusing buzzwords and claims can confound even the most tech-savvy CEO or CFO.
I have witnessed more misdirected, misguided, and botched Business Intelligence initiatives than I care to recount. Most of this wasted effort, time, and money can be attributed to two things; first is the endless tech jargon and alphabet soup of IT. I personally believe this first element is an intentional attempt at making things confusing to obscure how things are actually working in the physical world. The second reason is pride and protection of one’s own solution, or the solution of the company they happen to be working for is the only solution. These are the reasons I decided to start my own consulting company (Univant) five years ago. We work at eliminating these two killers of a good IT solution.
Unique challenges of Business Intelligence in a small to medium sized business.
The first challenge faced by small to medium sized businesses attempting to implement a Business Intelligence solution is a lack of skilled IT staff on-hand. Most of the big players in the Business Intelligence space, like Oracle (Hyperion), IBM (Cognos), and Microsoft (Sharepoint) assume that a full-time team of IT Database Administrators, and Developers are on hand to implement and maintain the system.
This first challenge is part of my personal assertion that a one-size-fits-all mentality exists within the big Business Intelligence companies. Simply put, they just can’t think in terms of a small business and expect that you just implement their solution their way. When working on a solution with Univant, the first order of business is to get to know you and your business. Only then, can we assume to know which solution is best and how it should be implemented. If you contact Oracle or IBM, I’m pretty sure they each have a different opinion on which solution will work for you.
The marketing departments of these big Business Intelligence companies will have you believe that the smaller / lower-end and open source solutions are impractical to implement. In some cases they’re right, open source can be difficult and usually requires specialized knowledge of programming. However times are changing and many of these companies have been leveraging the open source community in their own products.
The next big challenge for small business, especially at the smaller end of the spectrum is that time is at a premium and implementing a Business Intelligence solution (especially when using a solution from the big guys) takes time and money. The reality of making a costly mistake is very real.
Taking a phased approach to implementing a Business Intelligence solution.
Using a blended and phased approach is the best way to approach Business Intelligence at smaller businesses. Beginning with a hybrid Open-Source commercial product with a Hybrid cloud implementation provides the most immediate ROI, as well as the room to grow in any direction. Add to this that the pricing structure is also very small at the outset and can be managed as you grow your solution.
Univant is not only uniquely qualified to understand the struggles of small business, we are also users of Open Source Business Intelligence, as well as partners with more than one Business Intelligence companies. We also have experience in implementing commercial and open source projects in a variety of industries.
Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions are not always the best in the long run.
Sometimes the quickest is not always the best, sometimes it is… However, rather than simply making that assumption, and signing on for a subscription based one-size-fits-all solution a quick evaluation of your needs can save you big.
For a quick no cost, no obligation evaluation visit our page and fill out this Business Intelligence Interest Form.