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Five resolutions for small business success in 2012
Forsyth Alexander 060001T8Q2 FMALEXAN@US.IBM.COM | | Tags:  smb midsize intelligence business
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A brand new year is here. For many of us, that means making new resolutions or reaffirming old ones. Likewise, many businesses will start 2012 off by resolving to take steps to position their organizations for growth, such as attracting and retaining more customers, increasing revenue or improving operational efficiency.
So what should your small or midsize business commit to doing in 2012? Here are five resolutions every growth-oriented organization should consider making—and keeping—to ensure positive results throughout the year.
1. Reduce your reliance on spreadsheets
Organizations of every size rely on spreadsheets for core functions such as strategic planning, financial reporting and budgeting. For many smaller firms, spreadsheets also serve as an ad hoc business intelligence (BI) tool, exposing companies to a high degree of risk. Spreadsheets require labor-intensive manual processes, are highly error-prone, difficult to consolidate and lack good data integration, access and version control. A better approach is to augment spreadsheets with planning applications that integrate easily with spreadsheets and deliver greater business efficiencies.
Learn how to manage spreadsheet risk and improve efficiency.
2. When adopting a BI strategy, think big…but start small
A strong BI initiative can be a powerful competitive differentiator that enables your small business to stay ahead of the curve. But because you have a limited IT staff and budget, you need a practical solution that enables you to deploy components (for example, reporting, analysis or planning) tactically and incrementally. To succeed, you should “think big” by drawing on the conceptual framework of larger companies—yet scale your approach to fit your more limited resources.
Find a BI strategy that matches your resources, expertise and budgets.
3. Understand your customers better by combining BI with predictive analytics
You know who your customers are, but do you understand them? Adding the power of advanced analytics to your BI deployment can give you critical insights into your customers, including their previous buying patterns, how (and how often) they prefer to hear from you, and which products or services interest them the most. Armed with this deeper understanding, you can predict with greater accuracy what they are likely to need next and market to them in the most effective way. By pairing BI with predictive analytics, you can also see which customers may churn and understand the attributes and behaviors that lead to a defection decision. You can then push that information out to employees through your BI solution so they can take the right preventive actions.
Learn how IBM® SPSS Modeler® and IBM Cognos® Express can provide small organizations with a distinct competitive advantage.
4. Tap into mobile BI
Harnessing the power of smart phones and tablets can give your company the ability to interact in real time with your employees, customers and business partners. Mobile BI gives users immediate, secure access to data, wherever they happen to be. This results in better decision making, greater operational efficiency and flexible workflow. It also increases your firm’s responsiveness to your customers and partners.
5. Optimize your budget and preserve cash flow
Business analytics software is providing smaller organizations with capabilities that previously only larger companies could afford. But they often lack the capital to invest in leading-edge tech
2011 was a year marked by an uncertain economy and challenging business climate. No one knows what this new year will bring, but one thing is certain—the right mix of tools and processes can help you adapt to changing conditions and stay competitive throughout 2012.
What resolutions have you made to position your business for success next year?