Too many mid-market organisations are basing critical long-term business decisions on inaccurate or poor-quality data. Sometimes, the gamble can pay off, with errors going unnoticed or financial losses kept to a minimum. But, as with every game of chance, there are winners and losers.
A survey IBM carried out among board-level decision makers in mid-market organisations found that nearly 70 per cent still used spreadsheets as the staple support of business decisions.
Thirty-five per cent of respondents said they provided data only on request, rather than proactively, in rolling reports that executives can view to gain visibility across the whole organisation at any time.
Nearly half of all respondents admitted they were concerned about the overall integrity of the information they used to make critical business decisions. About a third of companies said that spreadsheet use had a detrimental impact on their business.
There are numerous problems with data duplication and inaccurate information in spreadsheet-based systems.
But mid-market organisations are suffering from both a lack of confidence and the fallacy that achieving first-class business intelligence is too expensive.
Spreadsheet systems also often restrict access to information across the business. Around 60 per cent of mid-market businesses are coping with increased data volumes.
You'd think they would be making smarter use of it – but this is not the case. Manual aggregation of information and sharing of vital data via email remains widespread and must be stamped out.
Yet cost-effective business intelligence products exist that are tailored to suit mid-market organisations. With the right tool, businesses can perform first-class reporting, analysis, planning, budgeting and forecasting at an affordable price.
Channel players can make their mark here. Alongside specialist consultancy and advice, smaller organisations can now benefit from the reliable reporting and planning previously only enjoyed by larger companies.
With a consistent and reliable system, answers to previously tough questions such as ‘how are we doing?’, ‘why are we doing what we do?’ and ‘what should we be doing?’ can become clear.
This allows managers to make faster, smarter decisions to reduce cost and
minimise risk. Mid-market organisations no longer need to gamble on their data.
Ged Simmons is country manager at IBM Cognos
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