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How Better Data Management Can Help SMBs Predict the Future

In this special guest feature, Didi Gurfinkel, Co-Founder and CEO of DataRails, discusses the potential benefits of data for SMB predictive insights. Didi was previously the GM at Cisco and has extensive senior management experience with a focus on growth and innovation. Did holds B.Sc in economics and computer science, and an MBA. DataRails is a leading FP&A solution for Excel users. The cloud-based platform automates the process of consolidating and analyzing financial data, while allowing users to stay in Excel. Founded in 2015, DataRails is based in Tel Aviv, Israel.

From a pandemic to crippling supply-chain woes and increasing economic turbulence, today’s businesses are grappling with multiple simultaneous black swan events. Buffeted by these crises, leaders of small and medium businesses are understandably anxious about their ability to predict what the future holds and successfully navigate whatever conditions are coming their way.

But it need not be this way. While there’s no neat-and-simple solution for making the world neater and simpler, data-driven technologies can equip SMBs with the business intelligence, decision-making capabilities, and profitability they need to survive and thrive – in good times and in bad.

Equipped with predictive analytics and data consolidation platforms, SMBs can streamline their data management and unlock vital insights, making it easier for business leaders to develop contingency plans in abnormal times like these – and making it harder for events beyond a business’s control to upend everything.

It’s All About the Data

The claim that data is the new oil, though clichéd, is apparent to all finance leaders. Data holds the key to a deeper understanding of customers, insights into supply-chain issues and market trends, and a clear picture of internal personnel and productivity dynamics. A business’s data-savviness is a solid predictor of its competitive position.

According to research by the McKinsey, data-driven businesses are 23 times more likely to significantly best their rivals in acquiring new customers and 19 times more likely to attain above-average profitability. Meanwhile, PwC reports that each dollar invested in data analytics for a business’s HR can yield up to $13 in return. This ROI comes in a variety of forms:  greater productivity, more effective resource allocation, and early intervention in cases where an analytics model identifies telltale signs of trouble ahead.

Predictive analytics help us better manage projects at companies – and prevent unforeseen delays and obstacles. Take software product development: As McKinsey notes, analytics models, which run on AI and machine learning and incorporate real-world data from past projects, can fuse an understanding of system requirements, architectures, hardware integrations, and much more to support accurate predictions about a project’s time to completion. Given that 1,800 software projects sampled by McKinsey showed an average schedule overrun of 25%, that’s a critical benefit. With a more realistic, data-driven understanding of any given project, teams will be able to make smarter decisions about how much time, talent, and resources they should devote to it.

Lightening the Load

Crucially, analytics provides managers with more centralized control of decision-making processes. This dovetails with a pressing need that many SMB leaders understand all too well. According to a Deloitte survey, five C-level type execs account for more than half of analytical work in corporations. This puts a heavy load on their shoulders. With data analytics, the burden of processing, aggregating, and analyzing data can fall onto technology, saving thousands of hours of human labor, leaving a company’s talent freer to focus on strategic matters.

By prioritizing effective data management, businesses can achieve greater resilience in the face of shocks like COVID-19, and they’ll be the first to anticipate changes in market conditions, customer preferences, internal team needs, and much more.

As data solutions become more scalable and more business leaders integrate them into their operations, a new breed of SMBs will emerge: nimbler, smarter, savvier, and more successful than the competition.

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