5 min read

BI For Everyone

By Jon Thompson on May 15, 2020 11:47:28 AM MDT

Photo by Ian Stauffer on Unsplash

Business intelligence is now a profit generating tool for Small to Medium Size Businesses (SMBs).  Until recently business intelligence referred to a category of business analytics and diagnostics that relied on big data manipulation to render a graphic representation of performance against goals, and was limited to the enterprise level corporations, due to its cost and complexity.  But with recent developments among SaaS (software as a service, i.e., cloud-based software and data storage) business intelligence providers, what used to require a small fortune and a team of data scientists is now accessible to SMBs.

In the last couple of years, the business intelligence industry has experienced a quantum increase in the utility and affordability of robust BI solutions that have proven themselves to be viable alternatives to  enterprise-serving products from Oracle and SAP.  SaaS BI platforms like SiSenseBirstDOMO, and Microsoft Power BI have emerged, providing the measurable benefits of BI at a price that SMBs can afford.  Why are these alternatives less expensive?  Because, SaaS solutions leverage economies-of-scale to deliver low-cost solutions, while relieving businesses of the technical challenge and overhead of managing an in-house server BI platform and data security software.

BI and Your Business: Is it right for you?

But can and should are two very different propositions. Does the fact that BI is becoming more accessible to SMBs necessarily mean that it is a worthwhile investment for most companies? Or do the benefits of BI apply only to large entities or a few select sectors and industries?

The value proposition of BI is indeed widely applicable because it addresses problems that are common to companies in almost any category of a company's operations. BI, when deployed correctly, can improve three important areas: strategic decision-making, cost control, and productivity and can relate to G&A, production, service, sales and R&D.

3 Areas of Impact

First, business intelligence dramatically improves managers’ and executives’ ability to make informed, timely decisions. Without BI, decision-makers are forced to rely on vague, disbursed, or out-of-date data. Then, even if they are able to discern a valuable insight from the data, it may be too late to avert aproblem or take advantage of an opportunity. Today’s BI tools not only communicate insights from data in a clear, graphical way, but they do so in near real-time, giving business leaders the information they need to make strategic decisions when they actually matter.

Second, for businesses committed to using business data to assess their overall health and performance, the time and resources required to repeatedly collect data, transform it, and get it to the people who need it, represents a continuing overhead burden. With SaaS BI tools, once data connections are established, those connections persist without on-going effort. They also allow permission-based company-wide access to data visualizations, eliminating distribution friction and overhead.

Lastly, BI increases individual productivity and improves teamwork, through the sharing of common goals and performance metrics. When employees can see exactly how they are performing as well as what is expected of them, the data becomes both empowering and motivating. Also, when all team members can see how their efforts affect overall company performance, it increases buy-in and unites each member in pursuit of common goals, increasing productivity and collaboration.


Here’s the real test of effective BI: Does it give you an accurate, easy-to-understand picture of what is going on in your company, and is it accessible to everyone in your company? From the dashboard views of Blue Margin's performance, shown below, can you tell how our company is doing? Even from an outside perspective, it is easy to see that we're generally on track, with some areas that need attention.

The information that this type of visibility presents can empower executives and employees alike to have an accurate picture of the company’s performance and health, as well as a transparent view into how to improve, optimize, and grow.  The accessibility of these new, service-based BI systems are resulting in a revolution in SMB management, and we recommend that you take a look at the benefits that they may bring to you.

If you have any questions about business intelligence or want to find out how Blue Margin uses Power BI to help companies thrive through data, feel free to contact us here.

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Jon Thompson

Written by Jon Thompson

Jon Thompson is co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Blue Margin Inc. An author and speaker, Jon sheds light on how businesses can take advantage of a revolution in business intelligence to become data-driven and accelerate their success.