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Small and midsize business managers have to balance it all: coming up with inspiring ideas, helming an overall vision for the company, and making tough decisions with as much credible input as possible. Advice and information comes from a cornucopia of sources, from your industry peers to water-cooler chatter.

/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/data1_230979.jpgInformation – most of it conflicting – is coming at you from all sides about products, competitors, and customers. And every source touts its indubitable credibility. It begs the question: What source do you trust?

The answer, according to the recent Technology Evaluation Centers (TEC) executive brief “Three Keys to Better Data-Driven Decisions,” is, well, all of them – assuming you have the technology in place to use individual reports, metrics, or other pieces of advice to give illustrate the big picture.

But is the right data in place? And – just as importantly – is it readily available? According to a 2010 Forbes survey of more than 200 businesses, 61% of respondents reported suffering from flawed information.  Is your business part of that majority, losing out to competitors because of inconsistent data? The solution posed by TEC is to unlock data buried in spreadsheets in the computer system or “locked away until the moment is right for it to be accessed.”

High-quality data is not a secret weapon you use in a one-time battle – it’s an invaluable cohort that should be consulted on a daily basis. It’s detrimental to not act quickly enough on information that’s buried in a silo – but it’s even worse to unearth a crucial piece of information that could have prevented a poor business decision from being made.

Increased data visibility yields three significant benefits for SMEs:

1.   Business activities aligned with overall corporate strategy: Consistent data helps you talk the talk and walk the walk – turning strategy into action with a business plan that can serve as an overall action plan rather than just lip service.

2.   Optimal resource allocation: Who should manage that plum account? How many training sessions do your people need every year? Do expensive events generate justifiable revenue? Data provides answers that are never clouded by office politics or individual agendas.

3.   Reduced effort for regulatory compliance: Reporting, auditing, and brand image weigh heavily on an SME – burying key workers under paper, while a large corporation might have an entire department devoted to the task. Capture and enforce compliance requirements within your IT infrastructure to track performance in real time and rapidly make adjustments.

With integrated enterprise software, data is visible and readily available at all times to everyone in the organization, opening up possibilities for greater collaboration. So when your out-of-the-box proposals start generating results, you’ll be handily rewarded with deserved kudos,  while your data does the number crunching and continues to validate your actions.

To learn more, check out “Three Keys to Better Data-Driven Decisions.”

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4 Comments

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  1. Niels Weigel

    Hi Meghan,

    a great article and this challenge is true for SME as well as for large organizations. Several business initiatives can be hit by bad data quality like Data Warehousing/Reporting, Master Data Management, Compliance, …

    Good to know that the SAP Information Management portfolio enables customers to set up necessary data quality firewall capabilities for real-time or batch data entry with SAP Data Quality Management, version for SAP solutions, (http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-34770) to ensure high data quality content within the SAP Business Suite applications as well as enabling customers to profile, assess and constantly monitor the data quality scores of their data with SAP Information Steward (http://scn.sap.com/community/information-steward), to always know the current status of data quality and to react early and pro-actively.

    The right Tools only together with People, Processes, Standards and clear Metrics enable a good total data quality management initiative.

    Best,

    Niels

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    1. Meghan Mucciarelli Post author

      Thanks for your reply, Niels!  I fully concur with your position. Quality managers with reliable data and strong team members is a clear formula for success – and SAP can certainly help put both SMEs and large organizations on that path.

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  2. Terence Moffatt

    Thanks for pointing out this great report by the Technology Evaluation Center. There’s too much value in Big Data for a company of any size not to take advantage of it. The days of dart board planning are slipping away fast.

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  3. Ruth Lerario

    Quick, efficient access to high-quality data needed for crucial business decisions is especially important in this age of Big Data.

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