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The Future Of SMEs Belong To Intelligent Operations

Many SME’s are focused on growth, but this is not what defines them. Some businesses operate to improve people’s lives in their communities, countries or even the whole world. Others look to reshape an industry with a new business model to interest competitors in acquiring them. A few may even turn a personal passion or talent into a journey of inspiration and opportunity.

No matter the goal, SMEs can support their desires by making informed decisions using the right intelligence and insights in every aspect of their operations. Unfortunately, most of them are struggling to take full advantage of the abundance of data they are capturing.

Forrester Consulting research reported that 79% of the midmarket segment wants to extract more value from their Big Data and 80% want to advance their use of analytics. However, according to IDC, only one-third currently use business intelligence and analytics.

Considering the increasing scope and speed of changing consumer demands, competitor disruptions and investor expectations, SMEs can’t survive without treating data as an intelligent asset. If success cannot be measured, the business cannot prove its worth. Data should be regarded as the smart enabler of strategic and tactical decision-making from which actions are taken.

Why running an intelligent business matters

Over the past decades, SME companies have seen a steady shift from paper-based tasks to spreadsheets, to ERP systems and now, shared digital data. Each stage of this evolution has empowered businesses to discover new ways to source and deliver products and services faster, especially when competing for fewer resources.

Despite running a successful, growing businesses, it’s not uncommon for SMEs to be slow in their adoption of the latest technologies. They often focus on the risks before the yet-unquantifiable rewards. Unfortunately, such hesitation puts them at a disadvantage, to discover digital opportunities which could help improve customer engagements, operational efficiency and financial performance. As intelligent technologies – such as artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and robotic process automation – become the industry standard, SMEs risk falling further behind the competition. 

How to start growing midsize businesses intelligently

It’s becoming clear that growing companies need to embrace digital investments and data-management practices to build a strong digital foundation.

The faster the marketplace evolves, the more businesses could benefit from two significant rewards from operating intelligently:

  • Embed continuous learning into operational applications to refine process automation and decision-making models for finance, customer relationship management, supply chain, human resources and manufacturing
  • Seize new opportunities early on by creating a central core of business intelligence and analytics to pinpoint emerging competitor weaknesses, internal strengths and unanswered demand

With this approach to intelligent operations, SMEs can unlock the genius of their workforce to chart a path of powerful outcomes such as optimised revenue streams, proactive customer experiences and high levels of employee engagement.

Author: Drew Bates, SMB Innovation, SAP Labs

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