Data analytics for SMEs will boost performance and are more accessible than many businesses imagine
It can be difficult to get your head around the impact big data and analytics technologies are making. To take just one stand-out metric, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) estimates such technologies will help add £322 billion to the UK economy over the five years leading up to 2020, the equivalent of a 2.7% increase in GDP each year. The CEBR also thinks that 67% of businesses will be using data analytics by the end of this period.
SMEs may feel like they’re missing out on the party.
Several obstacles stand in the way of SMEs seeking to exploit the latest tools and technologies – the high cost of some solutions and the shortage of data science skills, for example. Nevertheless, data analytics are set to become business-critical for SMEs – and the benefits are more achievable than you might imagine.
Why data analytics for SMEs matter
To see why data analytics should be a priority for SMEs, consider this research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit. It found that while four-fifths of companies believe sales performance is more important than other business objectives, only a quarter of them consider themselves competent with regards to sales. But crucially, among those companies with real-time, self-service access to customer and account data, the number rating themselves as very good rose to 97%. Data, in other words, can be the vital ingredient in securing sales success.
It’s not just the potential return on investment that should turn heads. SMEs should also realise that if they’re not considering data analytics, their competitors almost certainly will be. One piece of research published recently found three-quarters of SMEs were planning to engage in a big data project within the next 12 months. Those SMEs still sitting on their hands risk being left behind.
So what do we actually mean by data analytics for SMEs? Realistically, only the largest organisations are going to have the resources to invest in sophisticated in-house data analytics capabilities, given the cost of in-house applications, the associated need for investment in data centres and similar facilities, and the high salaries commanded by data scientists with the knowledge to lead such programmes. However, that doesn’t rule out data analytics – through cloud-based systems and software-as-a-service applications, it’s possible to access advanced tools that will add real value to SMEs.
A deep dive into your data pool
Many SMEs will already have a range of business intelligence and data analytics tools at their disposal. And though it’ll likely be held in disparate pools around various business departments, they’ll also have more data than they realise.
Very often, SMEs aren’t even making the best use of their existing resources, so this should be their first priority as they explore the potential of data analytics. Just joining up the data and then running it through CRM dashboards can provide crucial insights. Adding further functionality via cloud-based solutions offers even more opportunities, even for those with limited resources.
Armed with this practical mindset, SMEs can begin to investigate what might be possible for them as they seek to secure the returns on investment other organisations are already seeing courtesy of data analytics. Be realistic about your aspirations, but be ambitious too: data analytics for SMEs are already becoming a differentiator – and that trend is set to accelerate.
- Data analytics tools can help you increase your SME’s sales.
- Increasing numbers of SMEs are investing in data analytics tools - don’t get left behind.
- With cloud-based solutions you can access data analytics practically and affordably.