Size doesn’t matter when managing the data explosion

Traditionally SME organisations have relied on manual processes and spreadsheets to order data. But the scope for human error is huge and information is often duplicated. As such, organisations struggle to produce consistent results and it is difficult to analyse the data to derive insight. The dependence on reliable and useful information is growing. 

1,879 business and IT decision makers within midsize companies across the world were recently surveyed by an IBM sponsored survey carried out by the Opinion Research Corporation. The study highlighted information management as a critical IT and business priority. Over 70% of respondents globally identify improved decision making and improving collaboration across employees, partners and suppliers as critical areas to improving their overall business performance.

Business intelligence and analytics tools offer organisations insight that has traditionally been perceived as only available to large enterprises with the IT sophistication to integrate these tools into their systems. However, the reality couldn’t be more different. Business intelligence software provides SMB organisations with reporting, analysis, scorecarding and dashboard tools, which they are as desperately in need of as large enterprises. All businesses should be able to explore their data, regardless where it is stored. Dashboards allow the complex information to be communicated simply and scorecards help with team alignment to tactics and strategy. Business intelligence, analytics and predictive capabilities are allowing SMB organisations to capitalise on new and upcoming opportunities.

For example, FUJIFILM Imaging Colorants (FFIC) has made the move from spreadsheets to a financial performance management system suited to a mid-size organisation. IBM Business Analytics software gives FFIC accuracy and consistency in data, producing confidence in reporting and a clear picture of business performance.

Synexus is a global company that specialises in the recruitment and running of clinical trials. IBM Business Analytics supports Synexus’ revolutionary model of clinical trial delivery through its innovative, centralised model. The introduction of IBM Business Analytics software has been the first step in providing Synexus with unrivalled control of the entire study lifecycle.

Unsurprisingly, the number one barrier to business intelligence software highlighted by SME organisations is cost and a limited budget. In a recent survey of Chief Information Officers (CIOS) conducted by IBM, SME organisations also highlighted possible business disruption, inability to implement and lack of required in-house skills as barriers to the implementation of new initiatives.

By tailoring the scope of projects with resources, SME organisations are able to implement business intelligence and analytic strategies. Benefits are rapidly realised, allowing for further investment in the rollout. During these tough economic times, midsize companies are looking to IT providers and consultants to deliver value, competitive advantage and ROI. In fact, 70% of those surveyed indicate that they prefer to partner with an IT company who has expertise in their business to help them work smarter, while 67% of the companies look for partners that can provide the highest quality IT infrastructure solutions.

The key to a successful data management strategy for an SME organisation is the implementation of a flexible and dynamic IT infrastructure that connects people, information and systems intelligently. Not only will the organisation be able to save money and work more efficiently, but it will become smarter, more agile and more responsive in the market place. 

Tony Morgan is the Chief Innovation Officer, IBM UK & Ireland