What Are the Best Tips for Business Intelligence for Small Business?

M. Kayo

The best tips for gathering and utilizing business intelligence for small business involve creating a vision, collecting the right data and using it to better understand the market environment, and creating a roadmap that will lead to ultimate success. When economic times get tough or a small business appears to be in a revenue slump, gathering business intelligence (BI) data and using it as a means of operating more efficiently, cutting costs and competing against rivals becomes a priority. Some of the best tips for gathering and using business intelligence for a small business are: start small, know the goal of small business BI, create a system to store and disseminate BI data, keep BI simple and easy to understand, and know who is using BI.

One alternative is to hire a business consultant with specialized experience assessing the intelligence needs of small businesses.
One alternative is to hire a business consultant with specialized experience assessing the intelligence needs of small businesses.

The first tip involves making all employees and key people aware of all aspects of the BI process. BI is information that is used to lower costs, eliminate waste, streamline processes, and find out what competitors are doing. When done correctly, business intelligence for small business provides a window into the inner workings of a business. BI may also provide information about the inner workings and processes of companies competing in the same area. There are ethical and unethical ways to gather and use BI, and while most small businesses will employ ethical BI tactics, a knowledge of unethical tactics and practices can help prevent accidental or malicious disclosure of sensitive business intelligence.

Security surrounding business intelligence for small business is one of the primary factors to be considered. One of the best tips for creating and implementing a secure environment for any BI data is to make sure to initiate security procedures that provide all users with the ability to keep secure and confidential data out of the hands of competitors and hackers. The security surrounding BI data is only as strong as its weakest link, and unethical means can be employed by competitors to trick or manipulate employees into disclosing sensitive information.

Another good tip is to hire an outside consultant who has experience assessing the BI needs of a small business, designing an appropriate system, and effectively implementing that system. Ideally, an outside consultant should choose key individuals within the small business, develop a team and train these key employees to use the BI system. The consultant should train the team and provide ongoing support and any future training.

Deciding on an ultimate goal, and several interim goals, will help all employees and leaders to see that progress is being made and BI is being used to bring about the intended goals of the company. Every employee needs to clearly connect the newly implemented BI system with the stated goals and benefits of that system.

No new business intelligence system for small business should be implemented without the full support of the business owners and operational managers. In order to implement a BI system successfully, it is especially critical to have the cooperation and active support of all mid-level managers. The BI system should serve as a roadmap to make the business better and more profitable. With the support of key executives and upper management, the employees who implement the BI system will have the necessary authority to work with other employees and make necessary changes in all areas of the business.

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