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Cloud-based Business Intelligence

1 February 2012

As recent years have seen the overload of data and knowledge, the importance of implementing BI in organizations as a competitive edge has greatly increased.

One might ask:

  1. Is BI exclusively designed for large organizations and is the Risk of Investment (ROI) of Business Intelligence worthwhile only for such organizations?

  2. Why do small organizations/businesses not implement this technology and why are the organizational which do implement BI usually large organizations?

Take for example, a private business for baby products. In the past, the business relied on people that live nearby to purchase the products; the store owner also knew the customers personally. The business owner's decisions were based on experience and intuition. Can a private business today/in the future survive without  knowledge and data management, as it could in the past, let alone succeed when facing competition in its field?

In a time in which we are flooded in data, it is clear that the ability to make decisions based on a combined data analysis from various sources of information such as functional information and the business's previous experience, information from social networks, information regarding competition's actions and strategies and managing a customer database is vital for the success of any business.

We can see how large organizations have forecasted the data overflow and have implemented the technology when making decisions. When inquiring why these organizations and not others have done so, one immediately understands that the resources BI systems require (strong servers and processors, experts, setting up an organization database, and time) are resources that only a large organization can afford itself when considering the return on the investment in the long run.

When analyzing the market's current trends, technological organizations concluded that:

  1. Implementing Business Intelligence is a prerequisite for success in this day and age for both small and large organizations.

  2. The decisions and data change rapidly. Also, decisions aren't made exclusively at board meetings facing screens analyzed by senior management, but everywhere by many workers in need of available information via Smartphone, tablets, etc.

In order to successfully market the technology and solution to other businesses, these organizations began offering cloud-based BI solutions. The client isn't required to invest in expensive technology, lengthy implementation, or an IT crew. For a small fee, any business (regardless of its size) can afford purchasing this service and benefit from intelligent decision making in real-time.

Returning to our example of a private business selling baby products, we might face two possible scenarios: one in which the business possesses a cloud-based BI solution and one in which the business does not possess this type of solution.

In an age with no cloud-based BI solution: When a future mother is searching for baby products, she consults her friends, searches the web via search databases and compares prices, finds an advertised coupon with a very attractive discount for a maternity package offered by a nearby competing chain.

Let's ask ourselves: what are the chances that this expecting mother will purchase their maternity package elsewhere? Is the business owner even aware this potential customer exists? More importantly, how many customers of this sort can harm the businesses success or even survival?

In an age in which a small business can use a cloud-based Business Intelligence: The business owner benefits from the BI solution created by a certain technological organization. The BI solution enables receiving information in notification to the business owner's computer and Smartphone. The required data analyses are defined according to the business owner's needs as well as the nature of the business and its competitive surroundings, all shared by the provider when purchasing the service.

The business owner receives an update regarding searches in databases by areas and appears in the search results accordingly. He/she is aware of potential customers in the area and receives an immediate notification regarding the coupon as soon as it is advertised. The business owner then enters the indicator screen in order to view the stock status in real time, thus knowing what stock is required and how long it will last in order to make a quick business decision to compete with the competing chain.  

Sounds simple? It is important to note that this technology is still making its first steps. Technological companies developing cloud-based BI solutions are struggling with some complex solutions, such as transferring massive amounts data and securing business information.

Nevertheless, the potential is obviously great. Both businesses and customers will surely benefit from this budding technology.

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