Rethink The Spreadsheet To Advance Data-Driven Decision-Making

The diversity of small and midsize companies is unlike anything experienced within the large-enterprise community. From one-person startups generating $250,000 in annual revenue to $500 million operations powered by 500 employees scattered across the world, these businesses come in a variety of forms. But despite their differences, most of these companies are still guiding their decisions with a suboptimal approach to analytics: spreadsheets.

While it’s true that smaller businesses have an intuitive sense of what customers want, revenue growth and geographic expansion inevitably make it harder for them to sustain that superpower. According to Ray Boggs, vice president of Small and Medium Business Research at IDC, “companies that are able to nurture a culture of innovation and flexibility, based on the insights and improved decision making made possible by advanced analytics, will be in the best position to prosper in the changing digital economy.”

Advanced analytics sets the stage for new levels of decision-making

Making sense of data is a challenging endeavor, especially as many small and midsize companies have yet to fully adopt advanced analytics capabilities. However, real-life business experiences confirm that taking full advantage of data insights with a solid analytic strategy can help the entire company run more efficiently, productively, and profitably.

Recently, I came across a testimonial from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, a professional German football club powered by more than 125 employees. Since its first season in 2008–2009, TSG Hoffenheim constantly looks for ways to elevate the game. From youth leagues to the professional team, the club captures sensor data and analyzes every aspect of each player’s performance with real-time spatial data analysis. The coaching and training staff uses this information to develop personalized training programs and make in-game adjustments with greater confidence and precision. Perhaps more exciting, the club hopes to apply this intelligence in the future when it scouts new talent and devises new game strategies.

As TSG Hoffenheim demonstrates, effective use of analytics is a matter of advancing data management. Small and midsize businesses are engaging and serving customers with new channels such as forms of payment, e-commerce, markets, and digital marketing and fulfillment. In turn, these interactions create fluid information that – when processed, analyzed, and shared in real time – can provide valuable insight into new opportunities and risks as soon as they emerge.

New options, new sources of competitive advantage

With the introduction of cloud technology, machine-learning-enabled automation, and smart business intelligence practices, small and midsize companies can put data analytics to work in ways that were impossible with traditional spreadsheets. Embedded into subscription-based analytics solutions, these latest digital options can pull all sources of information onto a single platform to remove the risk of versioning errors, computational missteps, lost data, and corrupted or misfiled spreadsheets.

Progressive access, automated reporting, and democratized sharing of large data pools are a great opportunity to intertwine analytics with business processes – at a pace, scale, and cost that meet the needs of a small and midsize business. For executives sitting in the boardroom, functional managers working in the office, and employees engaging with customers face to face, such analytics capabilities provide an opportunity to discover, analyze, plan, predict, and collaborate in one integrated experience, when and where the business needs to turn instant insight into quick action.

By : Eamon Ida