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When I was a kid, I loved going to my dad’s office. I would spend hours playing with the copy machine, drawing in his ledgers, and making rivets with his rivet machine (although, I never quite understood what he used that for). My dad was an accountant, and he had his own practice with a few employees and a bunch of clients he had known for years. He had a small business.

Like many small business owners, my dad had limited budget and resources to do the same job as his larger, more profitable counterparts. But what small businesses and midsize companies have today that my dad didn’t have, is affordable and accessible technology that can help level the playing field.

Even the score

With software created specifically for the needs and budgets of smaller businesses, companies can manage data, analytics, and reporting as fast as larger businesses – at a price they can afford. And their IT departments are taking notice.

Based on a recent Oxford Economics survey of 2,100 small and midsize enterprise (SME) executives across several industries and 21 countries, business intelligence (BI) and analytics solutions are being widely adopted by SMEs. According to Oxford Economics, the most common technologies deployed by SMEs today are solutions for business management (48%), mobile (46%), and BI and analytics (44%). And smaller businesses are increasing their use of analytics, with Oxford Economics predicting that more than half of those with sales under US$100,000 will use these tools in three years – an increase of 43%.

Choose the right software to gain a competitive edge

Since SMEs have limited IT resources and budgets, many feel that any software implementation will be too difficult to fund and too challenging to successfully execute. Not so, reports SAP. According to an SAP thought leadership paper, “Meeting the Challenges of Business Intelligence,” small enterprises should look for solutions that:

  • Model a “crawl, walk, run” approach by starting with phased implementations, achieving success, and building upon it
  • “Fit like a glove” in an IT-constrained environment by providing self-service tools for business users, enabling report distribution and control, and supporting virtualization and extranets
  • Provide the richness of enterprise BI deployments by enabling quick integration with a variety of sources, supporting mobile-ready content, and running reports on a separate server without requiring an additional license

SAP Crystal solutions – BI solutions that include reporting, dashboard, and data discovery and visualization for small companies – meet all these needs, and more. With SAP Crystal solutions, SMEs can make faster, more informed decisions based on accurate, interactive reports and dashboards and powerful data visualization and discovery tools that require minimal IT support and budget.

Discover what affordable and accessible software can do for your business

Although I wouldn’t trade my memories of playing with my dad’s outdated office supplies, I bet he would have traded them in an instant for the right technology to make his small business run faster, better, and more profitable. If you’re thinking about replacing your manual, time-consuming BI, analytics, and reporting processes with interactive, real-time reporting and analysis, find the right solution to meet your business needs.