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Increased Understanding of BI Needed for SMEs

SAS research reveals UK SME community is confused by vendor BI terminology, despite feeling the same data pains as larger organisations

Small and medium sized enterprises (SME) in the UK do not recognise the BI market category and as a result are not aware of the full functions and capabilities of business intelligence systems, a new study reveals. The study was conducted on behalf of SAS UK, the market leader in the new generation of business intelligence (BI) software, by research consultancy Resource. It has concluded that despite this lack of understanding, the SME market is experiencing the same data issues felt by larger organisations and their lack of awareness of BI software is affecting their ability to address these problems. SAS’ study was conducted in July among senior decision makers in 300 organisations throughout the UK with annual revenues of £50 - £500 million.

The findings of the study revealed concerning figures showing the lack of awareness of BI capabilities among SMEs. When asked how they would describe, “a software solution that enables you to extract information from data, produce reports, forecasts and highlight trends/patterns that will inform your decision making”, the majority of participants answered with “reporting software”. In stark contrast, only 15% associated this statement with BI. The research goes on to show that over half of participants admitted to knowing little about BI technology and how it works.

Despite this lack of awareness and understanding of BI technologies, the research did reveal that participants were interested in BI software and perceived it to be a useful business tool, but could see difficulties in how to make it work in practice.

The research aimed to highlight the typical pains organisations feel in regards to their data. Twenty-seven percent of participants confirmed that integrating data across the organisation is problematic. The existence of many ageing systems makes it increasingly difficult for the SME to view company information in its entirety, creating a lack of visibility in cross-departmental data.

The research also showed data quality as a concern, with nearly a quarter of respondents stating that their data is of poor quality, which raises issues of data reliability. Others feel that they don’t have sufficient data to produce reports and insight. Another major concern was reporting capabilities, with over 20% of participants referring to problems with reporting, particularly the time it takes to produce reports.

SAS announced last week that it has launched an integrated approach to BI for SMEs in the UK. Richard Kellett, Head of Technology Strategy at SAS UK, explains: “The research conducted by Resource has helped us to recognise that smaller organisations need the same level of decision making capability as bigger businesses and provides fundamental insight into the way in which BI is being perceived by the SME community”.

“This research shows that SMEs are yet to appreciate that having a strategy that embraces BI gives them the opportunity to be more informed, agile and responsive. It demonstrates that organisations have to be educated around the need for BI solutions and the full capabilities and benefits they will bring.” Kellett concludes. “Data issues are a major concern to all organisations, not just to those in the larger revenue stream, and this is why SAS is now working with SMEs to raise awareness and ensure that they have the capabilities to address these problems. These organisations will benefit from SAS’ new SME solution, by giving them the capability to integrate, manage and analyse data which then can be deployed across the business. They will also benefit from its experience in dealing with similar data issues faced by larger organisations.”