Every market is a crowded market these days, and standing out from the crowd has become imperative to any brand that wants to survive. Companies do this through a range of activities, creative branding, claims about health or environmental benefits, and marketing activities... I could go on.
In order to compete effectively SMEs need to use this data to help drive sales and really understand how their business is performing, which products they are being accepted in the market and which customers are the key to success. This is where data analytics comes in.
Organising and analysing data that is already present in the business in a way that both short-term decisions and long-term strategic goals can be made, removing any ‘gut feel’ that may exist and basing the decisions on factual data.
What is Data Analytics?
In its simplest terms, data analytics is the process of modelling data to enable an understanding of historical sales trends which in turn can help decision-making.
The way in which the data is modelled and displayed is key to how effective data analytics can be, but yet an effective model should provide key metrics, filters and information that can be used as part of an overall sales analysis process.
Do SMEs have enough data?
Many SMEs that I speak to don’t think they have enough data to analyse effectively. Which is why they don’t really bother with analysing it. They have heard terms like ‘big data’ and think that it doesn’t apply to them.
But they are wrong.
Let’s imagine that you buy something in a shop, there are multiple bits of data that are being collected just from the single purchase. Firstly there is the item itself, i.e. what you bought. How many of them did you buy? The price you paid. Any discounts you may have received. The date and time that you bought it.
And that is just you buying something and there are at least five bits of data that were collected.
Now multiply that by thousands of purchases made every month, every year. That’s millions of bits of data. Whilst that isn’t as much data as larger organisations would be capturing, that still millions of bits of data are there to be analysed. Millions of bits of data can tell you a story.
What are the benefits of Data Analytics?
Having an effective data analytics platform will allow for a simple analysis of a company’s data, providing answers to some of the key questions that businesses have, such as ‘which products are driving growth’, or ‘what are the most profitable products or customers’, helping drive future decisions around product positioning, customer retention, pricing, marketing, innovation, and more.
For example, if you see that the sales this month are tracking behind last month, and you can see which products or customers are driving this you can make decisions on how to handle this. You can change pricing, adjust marketing activity around this product, ensure key customers have ordered and make sure the sales team are pushing in the right areas.
The timing of these decisions is also key. Seeing after the end of a month how sales performed would mean that the time to make any of those key decisions that you could have made has gone.
SMEs need to make sure that they can get the answers to these key questions quickly and easily in order to make timely decisions in order to stay ahead of the competition. Without data analytics being available then these decisions are left to gut feel, or best guess, whereas they don’t have to be.
How can SMEs start making use of their data?
SMEs can start using their data in many different areas, and depending on each company there are pros and cons to each one.
Using spreadsheets is the most likely first step for any company. But while spreadsheets have the capability these days to handle large sets of data, the skill of being able to manipulate this effectively and efficiently is something that many companies don’t have. The end result is then a large spreadsheet full of numbers that is hard to read, hard to understand and only updated once a month. None of which is of any real benefit to a business.
Bear in mind, that if you spend an hour a day updating reports then this is 37 working days of a year.
Easy to Work With ✔️ Easy to interpret data ❌ Data spread across multiple places ✔️
In System Reporting
With the current wave of digitisation, many SMEs are moving to cloud-based systems to manage different areas of their business. The good thing is that many of these systems come with basic reports.
But the first issue is in the word basic. The advanced reports, which give the more relevant information, tend to be only available on the enterprise plans, which makes the monthly costs add up.
A second issue is that with many systems being used, it means you would have to go in and out of multiple systems to find the information, which is disjointed and confusing.
Easy to Work With ✔️ Easy to interpret ✔️ Data spread across multiple places ❌
Business Intelligence Tools
Having a Business Intelligence (BI) tool, like Power BI or Tableau, is a great way of performing data analytics in an organisation. The advantages in data processing and modelling allow businesses of all sizes to maximise their data.
But the increased capability comes with increased complexity. This increased complexity comes with the requirement for specialist data knowledge, which is something that is most likely beyond most SMEs.
Easy to Work With ❌ Easy to interpret ✔️ Data spread across multiple places ❌
Pre-built BI solutions
Sontai has developed pre-built BI Dashboard solutions allowing SMEs to leverage all the power of BI Tools, without the need for specialist knowledge or IT support.
The Sontai dashboards plug and play into systems that SMEs use every day, providing quick set-up and easy-to-understand visuals, eliminating the need for copying/pasting data into spreadsheets and reading large grids of numbers.
Saving time, improving data-driven decision making and helping drive your business forward.
With Sontai you can have all of the data analytics capabilities you need, giving you a complete picture of your business right at your fingertips.
Easy to Work With ✔️ Easy to interpret ✔️ Data spread across multiple places ✔️
Want to implement Data Analytics in your business?
If you want to learn more about how Data Analytics can help your business, book a free, no-obligation discovery call today.