It’s easy to think that analytics and Big Data are only relevant for enterprises. But even small and medium companies need more than spreadsheets to track, review, and analyze all their data – especially if they plan on growing their businesses.
After all, the data you gather, share, and feed into various applications is critical to keeping business moving forward and thriving. And that data is growing in volume no matter what size your organization.
That said, it’s not surprising that many small and medium businesses (SMBs) are unsure what steps they should take to get a better grasp on all the data in their midst. If that describes your organization, take a look at Analytics for all: Small and midsize businesses see big benefits in today’s data-rich world.
This 36-page report published by SAS Institute Inc. covers the risks of relying on spreadsheets, and outlines four steps you can take to achieve analytic success. It also includes a roundup of articles and case studies exploring the relevance of analytics and risk management for SMBs.
While the full report is worth a read, this post summarizes the four steps to success:
- Secure executive buy-in – You need executive support to encourage adoption of analytics. A proven way to garner this buy-in is by running a pilot that produces real-world results and helps demonstrate the benefits of using analytics. As part of the program, walk your chosen executives through a simple analytics exercise so they can grasp the power of these tools in helping achieve business goals.
- Establish an analytics culture – Organizations are most apt to succeed with analytics when the tools are used pervasively and become a critical part of the decision-making process. To get everyone on board, distill the value of analytics into language that everyone in the organization can easily understand. Then consider ways to ensure high visibility of the impact the company realizes by employing and applying analytics regularly and consistently.
- Determine your organization’s analytics maturity level – Review the five stages of analytics maturity as outlined in the book Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning (and presented in the SAS paper) to understand where you’re starting and how to evolve. If you are just beginning with analytics and want to move from stage one to two, show how even those without a statistical background can use analytics to make more informed decisions.
- Identify and nurture analytical talent – Whether you have analytics pros or amateurs on staff, the key is to focus on those who are predisposed to thinking analytically. Recruit this person or persons and set up processes that enable her or them to promote analytics best practices.
Small and medium companies need to act like the big players – and tap into all the data at their disposal – if they’re going to grow their businesses. Follow these four steps and you’ll be on your way to using analytics as effectively as the big guys.