The future of SMEs covers a wide spectrum. Many SME’s are focused on growth, but it’s not what defines them. Some businesses operate to improve people’s lives. Others look to reshape an industry with a new business model. 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.
SME’s must make use of the increasing scope and speed of changing consumer demands, competitor disruptions and investor expectations. They 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. This is especially true 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. They need to discover digital opportunities which could help improve customer engagements, operational efficiency and financial performance. SME’s risk falling behind if they don’t make use of the intelligent technologies. They need to embrace artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and robotic process automation which are becoming the industy standard.
How to start growing SME’s intelligently
It’s becoming clear that growing companies need to embrace digital investments and data-management practices. They need 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. As this will 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. Which will pinpoint emerging competitor weaknesses, internal strengths and unanswered demand
With this approach to intelligent operations, the future of SMEs will be to chart a path of powerful outcomes. They will then be able to make use of optimised revenue streams, proactive customer experiences and high levels of employee engagement.
Author: Drew Bates, SMB Innovation, SAP Labs