A series of surveys of small to medium-sized businesses finds that cloud-based business intelligence is becoming a focus of investment for SMBs.

The reports were issued by Techaisle, an independent market research firm catering to the SMB market.

Among U.S. respondents, 52 percent of businesses using business intelligence products are currently interested in cloud-based alternatives. Financial analysis and business activity monitoring are two areas where the domestic SMB market has shown particular interest in cloud-based BI.

Techaisle CEO Anurag Agrawal says SMBs are driven by ROI on marketing dollars spent and the need to identify profitable customers as much as any business. Where a number of SMBs have already deployed cloud based customer relationship management solutions, the next goal will be to make sense of the data captured, link it to business objectives and monitor performance.

“SMBs are very focused on how to reduce the cost of operations,” says Agrawal. “One of the ways to be able to understand which customers are the most profitable and which are not.”
SMBs also seek to improve participation and collaboration toward business goals across the organization, the reports indicated.

“They are now used to CRM and have elements of dashboards and BI built into the cloud based CRM, but they will need more,” the analyst says. Future SMB offerings will need to span functional business areas such as accounting and supply chain. Where customers are not well-equipped to understand what BI can offer, they turn to the SMB channel and consulting practices which are likewise not well-equipped, leaving it to vendors to discover and lead the market.

As in most areas of cloud investment, security and privacy are barriers to adoption. Fifty-five percent of U.S. responders indicated they are concerned about data security.
Across U.S. mid-market organizations, other top areas of concern are data integration (45 percent) and inability to customize (38 percent).

Agrawal says new entrants are filling the gaps between Excel and high-end BI solutions such as those from IBM Cognos or SAP BusinessObjects for the low end of the market for the first time. He said interest and adoption at smaller enterprises will force BI vendors to provide better integration, real time reporting and new sources of information for SMB BI users.

The individual country reports are available for purchase through Techaisle.com.  

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