We are at an exciting time in the world of business technology. People are becoming more and more connected, making the world smaller than it has ever been. Any business owner, even in garage start-ups, can easily connect with customers halfway across the world, accessing an international customer base that large corporations would have only dreamed of several years ago.

And just in the last couple of years, Business Intelligence as a service has come into its own, making BI and big-data analytics accessible to all businesses, without the need an internal data scientist or IT team.

 This recent development has opened a new world of benefits to small- and mid-sized companies - benefits that used to be available only to full-sized enterprises.images.png

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However, in this brave new world of big data, it's not enough to deploy business intelligence and simply wait for the revenue pour in. To take full advantage of the power of BI, a fundamental mindset is required. To make real, measurable progress, we must embrace the data-driven business model.

Power to the People

What separates Saas BI from traditional in-house BI is that it can be used by business people, not just IT professionals and trained data analysts. It releases business data from the ivory tower of BI giants like SAS and Oracle and makes it accessible to the average executive, business owner, and employee, empowering them to gain insights into their operations and make strategic decisions based on real-time data from their own business.  More importantly, by increasing visibility, businesses automaticallyincrease accountability, driving more productivity and better decision-making.

The problem is, most companies aren't used to making data-driven decisions. And for those that do understand the power of BI, visibility is often limited to top-level executives and managers, while entry- and mid-level employees are left in the dark.  Unfortunately, this prevents BI from being utilized to its fullest potential.

The Data-Driven Business

The Data-Driven Business uses BI to not only gain insights about customers and competitors, but also to analyze its own performance. More than that, in the Data-Driven Business, all employees, managers, and executives have access to their own personal performance data and that of department and/or people affecting their area of the business. They allow themselves to be measured and motivated by that data, and they are encouraged to reach ever-increasing levels of productivity through a healthy sense of internal-competition. In our experience, this transparency, far from resulting in micro-management, inspires accountability and a sense of camaraderie among teams.  And lastly, "communal BI" will empower employees to see and therefore contribute toward company goals beyond their immediate work.

Anyone would love to be a part of such an organization, but it requires more than simply deploying dashboards. Like anything in a business, the change must start at the top. Top-level managers and executives must lead by example, showing employees that they will measure their own performance by specific, measurable data and will hold themselves accountable to it. They must exemplify a "growth mindset," which always sees room for personal improvement and seeks ever-increasing levels of performance.  They must value transparency, and be suspicious of secrecy and closed doors.

Also, managers and executives must encourage employees to analyze personal, department, and company data to look for ways the company can improve, and give them a forum for sharing their insights.  At Blue Margin, we do this on a weekly basis in one-on-one meetings called "Accountability Reviews", between managers and their employees.  Regardless of the medium, we encourage clients to create a regular (i.e., not the annual review) framework where 2-way transparency and feedback are championed.

When the C-suite decides that every member of their organization should be looking at the same data, measuring download_7.jpgthemselves by it, and allowing themselves to be motivated by it, overall productivity will increase. Rather than a handful of leaders steering the company, each member of the organization can be united in their effort to help the company achieve its goals.

SaaS BI has made business intelligence accessible to companies of all sizes, but to truly realize its potential and reap its benefits, business leaders must first change the company culture toward one that exposes performance data from the top to the bottom.

If you have any questions about business intelligence or want to find out how Blue Margin uses Power BI to drive their business, call Jon Thompson. He can be reached at 720-504-0017.

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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.