Your business data has interesting stories to tell, if you know how to tell all those spreadsheets and sales reports into insight and action. Many SME owners believe they have all the necessary information to run the business, but in fact many make decisions based on best guess or perception.
Businesses have been using basic analytics in excel for years to manually uncover insight and trends. But now there are new web based Business Intelligence (BI) products that are far speedier and efficient. These enable businesses to stay agile and give them a competitive edge that they didn’t have before.
One of the keys to being a data-driven business is to determine what the most important metrics are within your business, learn how to measure them, understand what levers affect it and appreciate what you can and can’t control.
You need to keep an eye on the financial health of your business by tracking key statistics such as revenue, operating expenses and cash flow. But there are an array of other, non-financial statistics such as sales conversion rates and customer satisfaction and churn that are also revealing. Monitoring the financial statistics might help manage cash flow, but the key metrics that determine your long term success may be a sales and marketing metric.
Business intelligence tools add value in three ways:
- Cost Reduction – Cloud based analytics are now available, making sophisticated BI affordable, not just for the corporates. Plus they can identify more efficient ways of doing business
- Faster, better decision making – Businesses can analyse information immediately and make decisions on what they’ve learned. No more waiting on year end results from your accountant and making decisions based on redundant data and no more decision making based on best guess or perception.
- New products and services – Businesses can gauge customer needs and satisfaction through analytics, giving businesses the power to give customers what they want
Once you know how to interpret your business data you can use it to drive all your business decisions and focus on the right areas in order to improve business efficiency and effectiveness by working smarter, not harder.
Understanding who your most valuable customers are, and whether you are doing the right things to attract and retain them, and knowing which are your most profitable products or services are the kind of valuable insights which can take your business to the next level.
Once you understand how to interpret your business data you can use it to refocus your marketing spend, customise special offers, realign customer retention efforts and change your mix of products and services in order to improve the metrics you’ve determined are the key to success.