Top SMB Problems Business Intelligence Can Fix


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Businesses want to make more money, and analytics is the way to go. Translating a jumble of raw data into actionable insights is what business intelligence does, so let’s take a look at what it can do for a company, who the major players are in the market, and what trends you should follow to get a foot in the door of the BI niche with your SaaS solution.

Business Intelligence Outcomes

Business Intelligence (BI) enables companies to retrieve, structure, analyze, and translate data into meaningful information that can solve problems. According to a recent survey by Forrester, the businesses that already implement BI successfully:

  • Make better-informed business decisions;
  • Develop short-term and long-term plans;
  • Improve data quality and consistency;
  • Achieve better business transparency;
  • Monitor and optimize process performance;
  • Increase customer satisfaction;
  • Reduce regulatory risks and improve compliance;
  • Gain a competitive advantage.

However, despite the promise of benefits, many companies struggle with BI implementation. According to TDWI, while 89% of the survey respondents see Big Data and business intelligence as an opportunity, only 57% have successfully employed one or more BI software solutions. Moreover, 11% of businesses see BI as a hindrance, and a potential problem and 38% avoid implementing it.

Despite the failed use cases and grumblings about the inefficient use of resources and data, the Big Data market continues to grow. According to IDC, Big Data and business analytics worldwide revenue will skyrocket from $150.8 billion to $210 billion between 2017 and 2020. Gartner predicts the business intelligence market alone to go from $18.3 billion in 2017 to $22.8 billion by 2021.

According to a recent business intelligence market study by Dresner, three primary in-company drivers of BI adoption are executive managers, operations and sales specialists with the financial sector closing in. Insurance and technology sectors lead the BI charge, but there are many adopters within business services, retail & wholesale industries. Unsurprisingly, education and manufacturing are lagging.

The majority of the market is overwhelmed by the Internet giants, with Microsoft, Tableau Software, Sisense, SAS, IBM, and others. However, smaller vendors offer customized offers at lower prices, driving competition and innovation in the industry. BI is no longer an exclusive club for big players, and startups can join the fight for recognition and success, especially if they embrace the latest trends driving the niche.

The Best Business Intelligence Software Trends to Embrace

Startup and SMB Market Growth

The same market study by Dresner shows that in 2018 companies with up to 100 employees had the highest BI adoption rate. Despite the majority of BI vendors providing high-end solutions for large enterprises, small and medium-sized businesses show an increasing interest in business intelligence. SMBs are more flexible and possess fewer adoption barriers compared to larger enterprises. Additionally, many startups rely on business models that require extensive data intelligence and analytics to scale up and beat the competition.

Analysts expect this trend to continue in 2019 as new BI vendors introduce solutions suitable for SMBs. Even startups can squeeze the expense into their budgets if the BI adoption promises sufficient benefits.

Self-Service BI Solutions

Harvard Business Review published an article back in 2012 calling data scientists “the sexiest job of the 21st century”, and a study by MHR Analytics shows that 80% of the UK responders plan to seek analytical consultancy or hire data scientists in 2019. However, Gartner predicts self-service BI solutions to produce more actionable results than business intelligence specialists as early as 2019.

Self-service BI tools feed into the previous trend and are more suitable for startups and small businesses that are considering BI adoption. To entice small companies to invest in software solutions, vendors need to focus on specific business outcomes and how they fit into everyday processes.

Business Intelligence Automation through AI

A 2016 survey showed that 80% of businesses used chatbots or planned to adopt them by 2020. Moreover, 38% of companies already rely on AI solutions to improve decision-making. Even more companies are at the proof-of-concept stage in their adoption of AI in their business intelligence initiatives. The use cases show that AI is capable of producing actionable results quicker than data scientists and uncover trends that business intelligence analysts might miss. We’ll cover self-service and automated BI reporting and analysis solutions in the next post, so stay tuned.

Data Governance

Besides cleaning up internal business data to avoid duplicates and corrupted entries, businesses have to deal with personal data regulations, such as GDPR, that came into effect in 2018 and will continue to do so in the upcoming years in the US and across the world. Companies that want to leverage user data to produce actionable business insights should be aware of the existing regulations and the upcoming changes to the data compliance issues. Similarly, the vendors offering BI solutions should ensure their products meet the international regulations to avoid class-action suits and million-dollar fines.

Business Intelligence Examples for SMB

Over the last few years, our team has been working with a client offering a business intelligence solution for small to medium-sized businesses. One of the best-selling features of this web application is the ability to fine-tune the settings of every widget on the dashboard that lets the vendor’s clients produce actionable graphs, tables, and charts to visualize multidimensional data from the data marts. Another great thing about this BI product is the ability to take snapshots to save the report data as well as save the state of the dashboard with all the filters and options already applied to ensure the setup remains editable.

If you decide to enter the business intelligence market with your SaaS solution, you might benefit from offshore software development services, as it will make the initial stages of your project more affordable. You can also choose an in-house team. It is a question of priorities and preferences. In any case, I hope that my article answered the most important questions about popular BI tools and helped you on the way to success.

Alex Slobozhan
Chief Sales Officer at FreshCode. I have been working at IT company for 5 years, organizing a transparent development process of creating new apps and implementation of SaaS, ERP, CRM technologies. With a master's degree in Spanish linguistics, I work in the sphere of international communication, marketing, and business strategy.


  1. Hi Alex,

    Thanks for the post.

    I appreciate your sharing of the (potential) benefits brought by the adoption of BI by SMBs; your evidence are convincing.

    I do, however, believe that there’re always two sides of a coin. Would you mind telling us the (potential) negative impacts for SMBs to take up BI?

  2. Hi! Thanks for your interest in my post. As for your question, there are 3 main difficulties of adoption BI for small businesses.

    1) The high cost of implementing custom and ready-made solutions.
    2) The necessity of collecting a sufficiently large amount of information. You need to hire a person, who knows all the details of your business and can do the analysis. On the other hand, the owner can do it by himself. But the processes of understanding and maintaining the system require your time and efforts.
    3) Some businesses are so specific and small that they simply don’t have enough amount of data for the BI system. They can use just Google tables.


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