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Enterprise BI for the small guy

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In a country where the vast majority of companies fall into the small to medium enterprise segment, it should come as good news that enterprise business intelligence is an available and affordable option to improve business management. With its BI Smarts solution, business intelligence specialist Synergy Computing is offering small to medium sized enterprises (SME) the opportunity to affordably deploy a complete BI solution for as little as R5000.00 to R10 000.00 per month.

Many of the innovations of the information and communications technology industry follow a typical adoption curve which has larger, more financially capable businesses benefiting first. However, as the technology becomes more widely accepted, economies of scale and competition from additional vendors inevitably drives prices down, pushing previously unobtainable solutions to price points which are attractive to the small to medium business.
Enhancing this adoption curve to further drive affordability, Synergy Computing managing director Christo Bredenkamp explains that the company is applying the concept of outsourcing to the combination of technologies necessary to create a BI solution.
“With BI Smarts, we have combined software, hardware, development and a suite of reports into an easily-deployed automated system which delivers key business insights for our clients,” he says.
Bredenkamp says key questions face customers in a variety of industries, the answers to which can often be found in data.
“Executives need to know if they are getting the right information to drive profits. This goes beyond raw data such as that from POS [point of sale], inventory and supply chain systems. What is required is the ability to quickly and intuitively gain access to relevant data to answer queries which may include comparative sales, performance of line items, the impact of specific dates and times on business and many more.”
BI Smarts solves the problem of capital outlay and high deployment and maintenance costs. Provided as a managed service, BI Smarts is not only affordable, but also risk-free.
“With no upfront fees, no developer or IT staff member necessary to maintain the system, clients can address their information needs for a fixed monthly cost,” Bredenkamp says.
The solution includes all BI hardware and software, a suite of interactive reports which include automatic delivery, consolidated data for historical trend analysis, the ability to author custom reports, toll free support and secure online access.
Says Bredenkamp: “Small and mid-sized businesses in a wide range of industries are using BI software to manage operational costs, improve performance, and gain competitive advantage. These applications were previously reserved for larger companies owing to the cost of the technology as well as the relative complexity of deploying it; however, the entry-point is considerably reduced while development efforts have been focused on making the installation of BI software simpler and faster.”
He adds that reporting, the ‘end goal’ of BI, has also received attention, with standardised reports available immediately in addition to the capability for users to design and execute custom analysis.
“Even the concept of performance management, which analyses a range of metrics to deliver a complete view of the company’s market positioning, capability and competitiveness, is today within the reach of the SME,” he says.
Pointing out that the vast majority of South African businesses fall into the SME definition of below 500 employees, Bredenkamp believes there is ample opportunity for these companies to replace cumbersome spreadsheet-based systems with BI software to reduce consolidation, close, and reporting cycles by days or weeks.
“Enterprise BI functionality and performance has left the enterprise. SMEs today can take advantage of that fact,” he says.