Changing trends aren’t anything new to small-scale businesses. They make their income by adapting to these changes. But unforeseeable circumstances can be difficult to adapt to. In this case, one way that small business owners look to mitigate the consequences is by incorporating technology.
Investing in technology is a long-standing dilemma – go traditional and save costs or invest for long-term benefits? As a result, most firms fall under the extremes by either over or under-investing in technology. However, whatever the size of the capital available, there is one type of technology that every existing business would need in the 21st century: the kind that not only helps with standard operations such as manufacturing (e.g. CAD & CAM) but also serves higher-level purposes. By higher-level purposes, we mean tasks such as trend analysis, data processing and decision-making- tasks that every businessperson (from tech giants to homeowners) need. This basic type of technology is called Business Intelligence (BI) software.
What is Business Intelligence?
So what exactly is BI? As per the definition, it’s a set of tools designed for the corporate sector, especially at the executive and managerial stages, to perform “strategic, tactical, operational insights and decision-making” functions (according to Forrester).
Another simple definition of business intelligence is “a broad application and technologies for gathering, storing, analysing and providing access to data to help enterprise users make better business decisions.”
Business Intelligence is the systematic collection and presentation of data to serve management, employees and other stakeholders with meaningful information that combined with context-rich knowledge of the organisation improved the effectiveness of the organisation’s strategy process.
Few of the tools available through BI software are:
- Trend analysis of consumer tastes and preferences
- Forecasting sales, cash flow and other required data
- Financial management
- Productivity and Efficiency analysis
- Risk Analysis
- Strategic choice/planning methods and options
Business intelligence software can be expensive but it is a necessary investment for the majority of businesses. However, there are a large number of options to choose from at various prices. Few effective business intelligence software plans offered at a low cost are Google Analytics, Zoho Software and Microsoft Power BI, some of which are even available for free.