BI trends for SMEs 2017

In this blog I outline the key changes which I believe will help shape the future of Business Intelligence for SMEs in 2017.

  1. Live Sharing

The days of sending PDFs or Excel spreadsheets to key personnel are beginning to fade with changing expectations that data should be instantly available to everyone. Business is following the on demand trend we see in our personal lives.

  1. Empowering the team

Traditionally the reports mentioned above have been used by the business owner and directors. The business benefits of sharing this information constantly and empowering all staff are evident. Just look at John Timpson and the success he has seen through sharing and empowerment. Great article here. Information aids decision making abilities.

  1. Remote working

Needing to be working 9-5 in an office environment is fading, with employees demanding to work more flexibly, and the government encouraging this for parents. The evolution of the Cloud has been an enabler in this move and undoubtedly in 2017 this will continue to grow. Having the ability to access data whilst on the move or working remotely is key. Important and beginning to be expected by employees.

  1. Environmental policy

The ever need for monitoring environmental impact supports the notion of moving towards a dynamic, paper reduced, tech savvy business where information is shared digitally and monitored in near real-time. Cloud BI aligns perfectly with companies environmental policies.

  1. Instant messaging

use of instant messaging (IM) tools such as Slack and WhatsApp for sharing of information and to provide instant communication with colleagues. Emails will gradually reduce as the use of IM is far quicker and more efficient than traditional email. The use of IM tools is aligned with the desire for instant business intelligence and the combination of both will increase in 2017.

  1. Focus on core data

SMEs all have valuable data, be it from sales invoices, purchases, employee wage costs or credit control. A focus on getting the raw data correct will help improve the standard of both more traditional reporting styles (through paper and bespoke excel reports) and innovating BI tools. Improving the raw data will deliver increased effectiveness and value from all styles of reporting, both traditional and digital BI.

  1. Multiple data sources in one place – increased aggregation

The world we live in now both personally and in business is surrounded by data. We register on multiple websites and apps each year and they all tend to generate data – valuable data. We can now use apps like Facebook or LinkedIn to register on apps, however the trend in 2017 will be for data to be bought together allowing the user to draw instant comparisons across multiple data sources. By 2020 aggregation apps will be common place.

  1. Cloud based analytics used for both on-cloud and off-cloud

Analytics have been increasing their reach with cloud based software as it is technically far easier to obtain this data and analyse it. That said, SMEs use many non-cloud programs which may not offer built-in analytics. We believe that 2017 will see the start of technology to enhance these off-cloud programs and bring them closer to the benefits of the cloud, whilst retaining the ownership of the data on their own servers.

  1. Business advisors & consultants will increasing the use of BI in providing proactive advice

Accountants and consultants are utilising technology around the cloud to enhance both their own and their clients’ productivity. The increasing emergence of cloud accounts based software has undoubtedly opened up the opportunity for firms to provide pro-active advice and react to the changing market. This will continue to grow with more and more firms marketing these skills as one of their core services.

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) for SMEs

AI will start to be talked about for BI in SMEs, although we are unlikely to see it being widely used until the end of this decade. We are already seeing the rise in AI, with Google acquiring Deep Mind in 2014 – already being used to perform tasks which needed significant human intervention.

There is a great article here on it is already impacting perhaps invisibly on SMEs. It will become more explicit and far less invisible.

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