Small and midsize businesses often view the rise of data everywhere as a reality that they can’t live with and can’t live without. Some leaders argue that access to sophisticated analytics and massive volumes of data offer a one-of-a-kind opportunity to out-compete every rival, large and small. Meanwhile, others still believe that to implement and integrate new platforms and solutions requires more talent, time, and money than they have available.

While both sides of the debate have their points, growing companies need to find common ground to move forward and get the most value from their data. Let’s face it: Spreadsheets, dashboards, and reporting templates are not cutting it in a world where constant evolution is the rule, employees work anywhere, and first-mover advantage can mean the difference between profit gain and revenue loss.

The Affordable Secret to Analytics Maturity in Small and Midsize Businesses

Winning in today’s increasingly digital economy calls for immediate access to relevant information to answer every question, understand the business, and seize new opportunities. And that goes for organizational heads as well as all employees, partners, suppliers, and customers.

The promise of “insights for all” may not have entirely materialized for most small and midsize businesses, but analytics innovations based in the cloud are beginning to change that. Without requiring significant capital investment; vendor and technology lock-in; and more resources to implement, integrate, and maintain, the cloud opens the door to analytics by supporting four core capabilities:

  • Continuous connection between transactional systems and analytics tools: Take advantage of automated integration, updates, and new solution implementation that remove the risk of errors, power the workforce with real-time data, and promote quick and informed decision-making.
  • Instant access to the right tools: Match the maturity of individual users’ analytics skills and business knowledge to eliminate the wait for the go-live of a specific tool, to discover real-time insights with ease, and to take informed action.
  • Secure environment available to the entire business network: Adopt an inherently integrated platform to give authorized users the data they need 24×7. This approach eradicates the presence of disconnected data silos; burdensome, costly, and time-intensive reporting processes; and progress-suppressing complexity.
  • A future-facing outlook in decision-making: Resist using analytics that only evaluate the past, which hampers the ability to protect the company from risk and disruption, and instead anticipate and act on future opportunities. Because the cloud enables businesses to tap into a range of analytics technology whenever needed and with a predetermined fee, decision-makers can access emerging technologies such as predictive analytics and machine learning-enabled automation.

Live Oak Bank – An SAP Analytics Cloud Success Story

For many growing companies, acquiring these capabilities with cloud-supported analytics has become a turning point for their growth strategies. Take, for example, Live Oak Bank . As one of the top originators of small business loans, the U.S. bank guides fellow small businesses with capital and financial expertise that fuel their growth.

Not unlike its clients, Live Oak Bank needed clear insight and collaborative planning processes – along with real-time analytics for better, faster decision-making – to sustain its growth. By using SAP Cloud Analytics, the bank is meeting its goals through fully transparent budget cycles, clear data visualization to spot trends, embedded analytics across the user experience, and flexible process modeling.

As Live Oak Bank proves, small and midsize businesses are as savvy about analytics as large enterprises, but they also need access to tools that are scaled to their specific needs and data maturity. No single person in an organization can afford to slow down the decision-making process until the right capabilities come along. Through the cloud, analytics technology can become a living asset that grows with the business and delivers best insights anytime, anywhere.

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This article originally appeared on Growth Matters Network and has been republished with permission.

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