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Want Sustainable Growth? Think Insights (Not Data) For Your Midsize Business

For years, top business minds have evangelized the power of data-driven operations. And many midsize companies, just like their smaller and larger counterparts, have responded in kind by capturing an abundance of data – ranging from performance metrics to Big Data dispersed across a wide variety of sources. But now the rules are changing as digital technology turns this once “holiest of holy grails” into only the first step towards differentiation.

According to the Forrester Consulting study, “How To Become An Insights-Driven Business: A Guide For Mid-Sized Companies,” commissioned by SAP, 79% of midsize businesses are looking to extract more value from Big Data. However, many of the surveyed companies are experiencing significant challenges along the way:

  • 52% have inconsistent quality across their data sources
  • 41% cannot process data as quickly as it materializes
  • 37% do not have complete visibility into their customers across all channels

To overcome these common obstacles, midsize businesses should go a step further from being data-driven by taking on an insight-driven approach. And when they do, Forrester Consulting indicated that a game-changing advantage is on the horizon – a staggering 30% average annual growth in a global economy where GDP is expected to increase only 3.5% each year.

What it means to be insight-driven – and how to get there

For midsize businesses, acquiring data to make decisions is not the problem. It’s knowing how to put that data to work.

To be truly insight-driven, organizations should pull all of those captured numbers and isolated facts together into a single source that can generate a full picture of how every imaginable internal and external factor is impacting the business. Then, and only then, can companies make decisions in the moment and take action immediately.

How can your midsize business make the shift from data-driven to insight driven quickly with as little disruption as possible? Adjust the way everyone in your company – from the board room to the shop floor – uses data.

In the report, Forrester Consulting suggests that midsize business should consider embracing four fundamental capabilities:

1. Manage data with greater agility and flexibility 

By adopting data management technology that goes beyond traditional, highly structured methods, you can consolidate data from every source into a single platform that can be accessed and acted on quickly – anytime, anywhere, and on any device.  For everyone in your business, this can be a freeing experience when making on-the-fly decisions that contribute to the customer experience and bottom line.

2. Adopt analytics tools that are agile, flexible, and self-service

Thanks to the latest innovations in predictive and prescriptive analytics, midsize businesses can turn every functional leader and employee into a citizen data scientist. And all of this can be done without the intervention of IT or third-party analytics consultants. Self-service analytics are now intuitive enough to manipulate data and dig deep into the finer details of the problem at hand – even if you are using a mobile device at a customer location.

3. Get well-rounded insights by tapping into all areas of the business

Data volume may have grown in recent years, but most companies are only really using 20%–50% of it to derive insights and make decisions. Your business must combine currently leveraged data with the remaining 50%–80%. This task can be accomplished by deliberately integrating applications into an ERP core that can handle large data volumes and process and deliver it in real time.

4. Deliver insights that are contextual, actionable, and pervasive

Considering the pace of today’s world, analyzing data without the assistance of smart tools is too time-consuming. By the time a decision is reached, it’s too late. The data is outdated, the risk is impacting the business, and the opportunity is gone. Pulling analytics that are contextual and learning from past actions can generate more precise insights faster.

Scale immediate insights and compete effectively – without complexity

While all of the considerations I mentioned may seem overwhelming, the combination of analytics and the cloud has never made this list more affordable, accessible, and simpler for midsize companies to accomplish. Data management and analytics capabilities are scaled to meet your needs in the moment and grow as your business evolves. Subscription pricing is predictable and does not require additional investments in maintenance services and upgrades.

But more importantly, everything you need to make decisions based on complete insights is at your fingertips, so you can compete and grow intelligently in a highly unpredictable marketplace.

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