The Business intelligence (BI) software global market is growing at an annual rate of 5.83%, which could reach $34.26 billion in 2028. The growth can be attributed to many small companies that have started relying on BI to beat competition from large corporations. Also, it’s a solution that has proved efficient in streamlining operations across healthcare, manufacturing, real estate, and finance, among other industries. However, it is difficult for small business owners to find cost-effective Business Intelligence solutions, especially with limited capital.
The BI market is saturated, and you need the know-how to identify a reliable yet affordable solution. So, how do you choose a solution that suits your business needs without draining your pocket? This guide offers insights on identifying cost-effective BI solutions, but before delving into that, how about a quick reminder of what BI entails and why it is important for your business?
BI involves implementing technology to collect, store, and draw actionable insights from company activities. Business owners or managers rely on BI for accurate and complete information, which is vital in making real-time informed decisions. By adopting BI, your business can enjoy benefits such as competitive advantage and the ability to predict market outcomes.
More importantly, BI solutions can be tailored to meet specific company needs. So, what should you bear in mind when budgeting for BI solutions? BI solutions may differ in cost after factoring in acquisition, operation, maintenance, and other fee-based aspects. However, it is possible to find a reliable and affordable BI solution if you consider several factors as follows:
Why do you need business intelligence? Which problems in your business can BI handle? Budgeting for a BI solution is easier when you know what you want to achieve. After identifying your business needs, find BI options that can solve your business and consumer needs. The BI market has enough options for businesses of all sizes. Explore their features and settle for an option that aligns with your objectives and budget.
Determining the overall cost of investing in BI technology is critical so that you can work with an informed budget. Besides the acquisition cost, you must consider implementation, upgrading, and maintenance charges. Some BI tools may also consist of hidden charges that you only come to know about after you have made the purchase. Don't dwell on the initial price but rather focus on establishing the total cost of ownership to avoid surprises ahead. Set aside a realistic budget, and if you need help doing it, consult a BI expert.
Some BI tools have free and paid versions. Users can use the free version to assess the tool and determine if it's worth investing for their business. Small businesses with limited capital can use free BI tools without upgrading to paid versions. As your business grows, you can upgrade to the paid version. You can also get customized BI services designed to accommodate your business operations. Examples of open-source BI tools that you can use include RapidMiner, Tableau Public, Birt, Pentaho, and Metabase.
Before committing to a BI tool, it is essential to determine if it is the right choice for your business model. That is why most BI tools provide users with a trial period of up to a month. Some BI tools may include all features, including the advanced features in the trial period, while others may limit them. You can unlock the premium features once you subscribe or purchase the tool. The trial period also helps business owners to determine a tool's compatibility with the existing business infrastructure.
Did you know that you can successfully negotiate BI solutions? Many BI service vendors won't mind slashing the price if you decide to commit to their service for a long time. Negotiation can help you acquire a BI tool that wasn't within your budget, so don't hesitate to engage the vendors for a discount. You will be surprised at how much you may end up saving.
Investing in a BI model that cannot accommodate business growth would be a waste of resources, requiring you to purchase another tool once your business expands. Scalability is crucial, enabling you to choose a BI tool that grows with your business. With a scalable BI tool, you will only pay for added features instead of acquiring an entirely new model.
Some BI tools can be complicated and challenging to navigate, and if you go for one, you have to pay for employee training. You can save money and time by going for a user-friendly BI tool that is easy to use for everyone. There are plenty of BI tools with friendly interfaces, and others are also mobile-friendly, enabling your team to access and use them wherever they are. In addition, you can opt for custom BI applications that meet your explicit business demands.
You can avoid spending money on a faulty or underdeveloped BI solution by reading other users' testimonials and reviews. The feedback from users who have already used the tool is critical in helping you decide whether the tool is worth acquiring for your business. Positive feedback should outweigh negative reviews. Ensure that the reviews are trustworthy and not from compromised sources.
Finding a suitable and cost-effective BI tool shouldn't stress you as long as you understand your goals and budget constraints. With so many BI tools in the market, the above considerations can help you find the best option for your business needs without breaking the bank. While the goal is to find an affordable BI solution, avoid cheap options that promise heaven but have nothing to offer. Also, beware of cheap solutions with lots of hidden charges. You can always research and rely on reputable BI experts to navigate the flooded market and find a solution that aligns with your needs and budget.