How business intelligence can help small scale enterprises to grow?

By Priya Chetty on January 17, 2020

It is a daunting task for small scale enterprises to incorporate Business Intelligence (BI). It requires financial and technological investments in an eco-space where there is a constant conflict between meeting short term economic goals versus long term strategic objectives (SAP, 2013). Most small scale enterprises have remained distant from ploughing resources into business intelligence. However, researches find that they stand a greater chance to benefit from it as they are agile and flexible in comparison to larger firms to swiftly incorporate changes to face altering market trends (Mehling, 2012).

The main aim of this research is to study the need and impact of business intelligence within different departments of enterprises such as

  • Product Development,
  • Costing,
  • Research and Development,
  • QA,
  • Logistics and all other departments and functions.

Understanding business intelligence and its application in small scale enterprises

Pioneering the way for small scale enterprises, business intelligence helps organizations to evaluate crucial insights by studying and analyzing available data. This aids in delivering better results in every aspect of the business, across functions and departments. From accounting for raw materials pertaining to production processes to achieving the frontline sales target, BI helps in aligning and optimizing every unit within an organization to maximize quality output.

While there are a plethora of BI tools such as software in the market, only a handful of these is customized to meet the atypical requirements of smaller enterprises. The Business Intelligence platforms created by these organizations ensure analyzing queries on real-time and ones that are ad hoc in nature. They offer user-friendly and easy to comprehend dashboards integrated on robust architectural frameworks that aid smaller and medium organizations deliver better performance with optimal resource input. Such tools convert BI technological investments from cost centres to profit units (Oracle, 2015).

Advantages of business intelligence tools in small scale enterprises

Small scale enterprises are continuously under a scanner to run their day to day operations to fit in a tight framework of resources. The challenge lies in how skillfully they are able to manage given the limited assets. In-fact BI not only helps these organizations become profit worthy, but it also helps them convert challenges into profits (Rud, 2009). The 3 most important attributes required for the survival of small enterprises are fulfilled by BI insights, presented below.

Advantages of business intelligence for small scale firms
Figure 1: Advantages of business intelligence for small scale firms

Faster delivery

Smaller organizations are comparatively leaner so it makes it easier for them to incorporate changes that would make achieve targets faster. Business intelligence helps to swiftly pluck poor performers. Knowing insights about revenue and expenditure helps managers to quickly switch from avenues that are less fruitful thereby investing more time, money and resources on quality products that drive greater revenue.

Consistent growth and development

The small and medium scale enterprises need to continually churn out profit and growth or else they face the challenge of going out of business as they become irrelevant by competitors and are soon washed away by giant organizations that fulfil variegated customer needs. Ensuring continual profits require exactly knowing the pain points of business and fixing them. For instance, more resources should be directed to clients, geographies, product lines that have a higher probability of converting rather than on slow-moving goods, sluggish territories and lukewarm clientele. These insights can be easily determined if organizations use, efficient BI tools.

Focus on a common goal

Small and medium enterprises have a comparatively smaller array of product or service line up. The reasonably small portfolio needs to comprise of updated and effective products and services. So it is necessary from front line sales, customer relationship managers, marketing and sales strategy departments to support functions such as:

  • research and development teams,
  • quality analysts,
  • production managers and,
  • financial experts.

They are aligned so that they all share and attain a common goal thereby leveraging the maximum output given the limited available resources. This is enabled by business intelligence.

Role of business intelligence tools in growth and profitability

Business intelligence tools help in processing information to take the best decisions (Scheps, 2011). They help in converting cross-department data into meaningful and easily comprehensible information for every person within an organization. In addition to the aforesaid other necessary aspects of using business intelligence within small organizations helps them grow bigger sharing insights.

The past decade has seen selective investments of smaller enterprises into business intelligence. A closer look points out that the majority of the analytical study orients around ways to capture market share. This helps businesses to incorporate necessary adjustments. To ensure sustainable growth in the right direction organizations need to ensure that every function within an organization needs to be scanned and studied. BI has emerged as a competitive intelligence tool for small businesses and helps them take informed decisions (Llyod-Reason and Sear, 2007).


  • Mehling, H. Are small businesses ready for Big Data. California, USA: enterprise Apps today, 2012.
  • Lloyd-Reason, L. & Sear, L., 2007. Trading Places–SMEs in the Global Economy: A Critical Research Handbook. GL: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Oracle. Oracle>Business Analytics>Business Intelligence>Overview. (accessed January 8, 2015).
  • Rud, O. Business IntelligenceSuccess Factors. New Jersey, USA: John Wiley & Sons, 2009.
  • SAP AG or an SAP affiliate company. Meeting the Challenges of Business Intelligence for Small Enterprises. Thought Leadership- White paper, Country-Germany: SAP AG, 2013.
  • Scheps, S., 2011. Business Intelligence For Dummies. NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Priya is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Project Guru, a research and analytics firm based in Gurgaon. She is responsible for the human resource planning and operations functions. Her expertise in analytics has been used in a number of service-based industries like education and financial services.

Her foundational educational is from St. Xaviers High School (Mumbai). She also holds MBA degree in Marketing and Finance from the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, Delhi (2008).

Some of the notable projects she has worked on include:

  • Using systems thinking to improve sustainability in operations: A study carried out in Malaysia in partnership with Universiti Kuala Lumpur.
  • Assessing customer satisfaction with in-house doctors of Jiva Ayurveda (a project executed for the company)
  • Predicting the potential impact of green hydrogen microgirds (A project executed for the Government of South Africa)

She is a key contributor to the in-house research platform Knowledge Tank.

She currently holds over 300 citations from her contributions to the platform.

She has also been a guest speaker at various institutes such as JIMS (Delhi), BPIT (Delhi), and SVU (Tirupati).