NOW IS A GREAT TIME for small and midsize businesses to rethink their approach to business intelligence and analytics, and that means opportunity for the channel, according to Laurie McCabe, co-founder and partner of The SMB Group Inc.
In the Boston-based analyst firm’s 2017 SMB Routes to Market Study, 31 percent of midsize businesses (100 to 1,000 employees) say “getting better insights from the data we already have” is a top technology challenge. That’s topped only by securing/protecting company information from threats (35 percent) and keeping systems up and running (39 percent).
And while the report notes that there are “powerful, yet cost-effective and easy-to-use cloud-based analytics solutions” available, many SMBs “rely primarily on spreadsheets or homegrown tools for data analysis.”
McCabe says small and medium businesses know they need to take a data-driven approach to decision making, “but they’re using a tool that’s not purpose-built for analytics, which is obviously riddled with problems because people are manually updating.” Moreover, she says, SMBs are “mainly using analytics to get insight to what happened in the past. Only a low percentage are using predictive analytics to help them model, forecast, and figure out what could happen in the future.”
Even if SMBs are using, say, a cloud-based analytics app that provides access to good data, McCabe adds, they don’t have the skills to know what they should be looking at and analyzing.
“For a lot of SMBs the whole thing is overwhelming,” she continues. “The best thing a partner can do is help them focus on the most critical aspects of the business they can act on and improve if they know what’s going on.”
Most people in the channel already understand analytics, McCabe adds, “and they know the ability to understand what’s going on in the business is a big plus for customers. And a lot of them provide measurements in terms of the services they’re providing to customers.”
But SMBs also need predictive insights to grow their businesses—the No. 1 business challenge according to midsize survey respondents. “There’s a big opportunity if partners can help them understand what’s available [for analytics tools] and how to take advantage of that,” McCabe says.