Business intelligence and analytics can be an intimidating field to dive into, especially if you’re on a tight budget. But by starting small, prioritizing data quality, and leveraging low-cost tools, your business can start reaping the benefits of BI without breaking the bank. Here are some tips to get you started.
Use free or low-cost Business Intelligence tools
There are many free or low-cost tools available for businesses of all sizes. A typical analytics environment consists of three main components:
- Visualization software,
- A place to store your data (usually a relational database),
- And an intermediary tool to sync your data to the database.
Some examples of low-cost tools that can help you get started include: Metabase (visualization software), Microsoft’s Azure Cloud (Postgres database), and Power Automate (replication tool).
Start small with Business Intelligence
Don’t try to implement everything at once. Start with one or two areas that you want to focus on, and gradually add more features as your budget allows. Use the agile development methodology to ship your analytics with fewer roadblocks.
Example: “Company X” used analytics to understand the stickiness of their product at month twelve of the customer journey. They found that customers who remained engaged with the product for more than twelve months were more active during their first month compared to those who were no longer engaged at the twelve-month mark. In response, they created a marketing initiative and budget to identify and target customers who weren’t engaged during their first month, and set up key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor the success of the initiative. As a result, they were able to measure the success of their marketing efforts, increase customer retention, and retain customer revenue.
Prioritize data quality for powerful BI
To ensure that your data is reliable, establish standard operating processes (SOPs) that take data quality into account. This means implementing controls to ensure that data is entered accurately and consistently, and that the data is properly validated and cleaned before it’s used for decision-making. Luckily, there are a number of ways to improve business processes, from streamlining data collection to automating tasks.
Example: “Company Y” used to have sales representatives manually record meetings, phone calls, and product sales on a spreadsheet. By introducing standard operating processes (SOPs) and using their internal customer relationship management (CRM) tool to capture sales data, the company was able to reduce the amount of manual work for its sales representatives so they could focus on the core mission of selling products. The executive team was able to determine which sales methods were most effective and how many touchpoints were needed to convert a prospect into a customer.
Hire a BI Consultant
Hiring an expert can save both time and money. Take advantage of your software suite’s partner program, or use an online platform like Upwork to connect with experts from around the world.