KPI dashboard a must for SMBs to drive business

dashboard230.jpgSource: Charles Platiau/Reuters

When most people think about a big data environment they envision a classic 3-V situation: a large enterprise wrestling with massive volumes of information, arriving at incredible velocity and comprised of a wide variety of data types. But small business owners experience big data in similar fashion, despite obvious differences in volume, velocity and variety metrics.

I've written here before about how small businesses generate data from many new sources—Google AdSense, Amazon partnerships, Facebook pages, and more—and the opportunities they gain in terms of marketing, planning staff levels, and improving sales. What I did not dwell on was how small business CEOs should view their world of big data.

Just like big business CEOs, small-biz leaders should use a dashboard.

Whatever the company's size, every CEO has his or her key performance indicators (KPIs). In a small company, the odds are better than in a large one that the firm's boss knows exactly which KPIs indicate the business is humming like a well-oiled machine or about to sputter to a stop. Getting those KPIs visually displayed and regularly updated in an analytics dashboard is the best way to see at a glance precisely how your business is either thriving or struggling.

One small business owner wrote a piece for the New York Times about how he was at his wit's end getting the information he needed to run his company. It was limiting his ability to grow the business. Then he hit upon the idea of deploying a dashboard with the KPIs that meant the most to his bottom line.

He wrote: "For me, building a dashboard came out of crisis. I needed one page with critical information that was sent to me daily. As we moved out of crisis, I realized I also needed a dashboard that showed trends. As our success improved, our dashboard changed. It continues to be a key component of tracking success and pressure points in my businesses."

While large organizations wrestle with terabytes, petabytes and maybe even zettabytes of data, most companies are grappling with mere megabytes and gigabytes of information. But the solution is the same: know your KPIs and present them to the boss in a dashboard.

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