For new businesses, the difference between success and failure isn’t always product quality or customer service. Sometimes it’s simple information and how it’s managed. What do customers want? Why did they buy from you instead of someone else? What sets you apart?

This is called business intelligence. Gathering and tracking information can easily be done, and it doesn’t require an arduous process of invasive questioning to accomplish this.

Best of all, you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to get the software and systems needed, there is BI software┬áthat any startup can afford.

So there’s no need to debate whether you need it or can afford it. The question now is what BI software can specifically do for your company. Here’s an overview.

Capturing social media

It is inescapable that BI would somehow incorporate social media. Sailing the sea of tweets, posts, and shares, these systems can quickly gather hashtags and likes. They then gather all this information into an assessment of what products and services people are talking about, and what they are saying about them.

Think of a focus group with millions of members providing detailed feedback. Marketing firms in the 1960’s would have done anything for that kind of information!

It rolls back into social media as well. When companies know what people are interested in, they can utilize corporate posts and advertisements to scratch the particular itch in question. The reactions to those offerings can then be captured and gauged, and the process continues indefinitely.

Number-crunching power

If you have time to talk in depth with ten customers walking out of your store each day, you will probably feel pretty good. They have armed you with 70 responses each week to what is going on with your business.

But statistics are full of outliers, and you either miss the majority or the minority if you don’t talk to enough people. Maybe your bakery’s new cupcake flavor was only a hit with one person in town, but because you happened to talk to that one person, you got a distorted view of its popularity.

This problem is eliminated with BI. Because it is all computerized and automated, it can thoroughly saturate your customers. The percentage of them that provide feedback goes through the roof, and the system itself can handle all the data and hand it over to you in a neat package. Which brings up the next point.

Presentable presentation

Did you ever make a presentation to a group and immediately get told that your pie charts should have been bar graphs, or your tables a scatter plot? Use of BI eliminates this quandary of how best to exhibit what you know.

A few simple clicks can reconfigure your outputs into whatever form you need, and because it’s all generated on computers, you can present to a group directly through their tablets or smartphones, or simply email them ahead of time.

Data is used for decision-making, and if the people making the choices for your financing or management can’t make sense of what you bring them, you are at a distinct disadvantage. This problem is neatly resolved with BI.

And that is our final slide of this presentation. But don’t let it be the last thing you read about business intelligence!