For almost any business of almost any size, the list of things they need seems to be never-ending, and it changes depending on who's talking. Business intelligence is a relatively recent addition to this list, but when you stop and consider why business intelligence is becoming increasingly necessary, the notion is quite valid.
What Problems Do Mid-Market Businesses Have that Business Intelligence Can Address?
While every business is inherently different, mid-market businesses tend to have some common problems due to their unique status in the market.
It's common knowledge that the advantage of a small business over a large corporation is that it's more nimble and can adapt faster, allowing it to survive in a changing landscape. Mid-market businesses, existing between the two, are more agile than large corporations, but not as flexible as small businesses.
While communication flows quickly through small businesses — and lumbers along through monolithic ones — it falls somewhere in between in mid-market business. There are more people to talk to, more considerations surrounding office politics, and unofficial grapevines tend to exert more influence when there are more people involved.
By definition, mid-market businesses have more layers of command and control processes than their smaller counterparts, and this, in turn, slows down decision making. In small businesses, the layers of command and control are much more manageable, and information can go from the frontlines to executive officers much more quickly. In mid-market businesses, there are additional layers, and each has to receive the information to pass it on. Plus, as these layers each exert their own influence, communication becomes that much more complicated.
Being overlooked by suppliers.
Products geared toward small businesses are legion, likely because there are so many small businesses out there. Meanwhile, there are also plenty of products geared toward large corporations, because they have the resources to spend heavily. It's the difference between selling 20,000 licenses at $20 each, or 20 licenses at $20,000 each, which is to say, there's no real difference. Mid-market businesses, however, are often ignored by a market pursuing lower-hanging fruit.
Addressing issues of competition.
All businesses have competitors, but mid-market businesses face competition from both sides. Whether it's small businesses looking to land market share and move up, or large corporations looking to protect their current market, mid-market businesses must be both more attractive than the agile, up-and-coming competitors and as reliable as large corporations with vastly more resources.
How Can Business Intelligence Address Those Problems?
While these problems won't automatically be cleared up by the application of any one platform, business intelligence can go a long way toward clearing up many of these common mid-market business problems.
Data visualization is a common component of business intelligence operations, and it can address one of the biggest problems a mid-market business has: data velocity. Data moves more quickly or slowly through an organization depending on its size. This should be expected; no one expects water to move through a 50-foot hose faster than it does through a 10-foot one. Data visualization, though, can improve the speed at which data moves through a business by being more accessible — even to the less technically adept. Visualization allows people to experience data visually; remember the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, and consider how long it takes you to absorb a picture compared to pages of text.
Self-service business intelligence.
This addresses the issue of mid-market businesses being ignored in the field. Business intelligence providers are increasingly offering business intelligence on an as-a-service basis. This is mainly geared toward small businesses, but in this case, it's just as accessible to mid-market one. That means there's no need to wait for someone to develop a mid-market business intelligence platform; it's already waiting to be used.
Securing data is a helpful part of business intelligence because business intelligence depends so heavilyon data. Protecting that data as it travels from its source to its destination is integral, as state regulations often mandate security measures. Other times, though, it's just good business, because a data breach affects businesses in the same way as any other disaster.
A better look at the competition.
While mid-market businesses face competition from both sides of the growth spectrum, business intelligence can provide a great deal of insight into that competition. Publicly-available financial records meant to provide visibility to stockholders are an excellent source of data fodder for business intelligence. Social media mentions can also offer clues about a company's competition. For instance, noting that a business seems to have a lot of complaints on Facebook can be an eye-opening insight into what the market considers important.
How Do I Start Bringing Business Intelligence Into My Business?
If you're ready to start putting business intelligence to work, then a great place to start is by getting in touch with us at UTG. We have a wide range of solutions specifically designed to work with mid-market businesses. We also have a full slate of professional project management services that contribute to better business intelligence. Drop us a line, and get ready to take better advantage of the business intelligence concept.