In yet another sign that SMBs are availing themselves of enterprise systems once thought of as only suitable for large organizations, a new study from Techaisle demonstrates that a large percentage of SMBs plan to adopt business intelligence (BI) systems this year. Twenty-two percent of SMBs currently use BI solutions, and another 27 percent intend to do so this year.

MSPs who cater to SMBs should make particular note that SMBs favor leading edge technologies such as cloud and mobile to support their BI efforts, most likely to avoid the significant overhead associated with hosting a BI solution on a traditional platform.

Planned Cloud BI Use Surges

Techaisle data indicates 47 percent of SMBs who currently use spreadsheet-based BI systems plan to shift to cloud-based BI during 2012, making cloud by far the most popular means of supporting new BI systems among SMBs. Supporting multiple locations and telecommuting employees, along with low initial cost, are prime drivers for using cloud BI.

However, the study does show that barriers to adoption remain in the form of data security, privacy, data integration and customization. The study also shows that ease of use, real time analytics, and integration across applications will accelerate adoption. SMBs prefer procuring a single consolidated BI platform; however, differences exist by employee sizes.

Mobile, ‘Big Data’ BI Also in the Mix

While they are not as popular as cloud-based BI systems, BI systems that are based on mobile platforms and that can handle “big data” analytics also figure prominently in SMB plans for 2012. Eighteen percent of SMBs using BI are planning to adopt mobile BI in 2012, although study results suggest SMBs are unsure on how best to utilize the applications and associated costs.

In addition, large enterprises are not the only organizations concerned about sifting through the exponential volumes of data being created by social media, wireless technology, and other new information gathering portals, as at least 18% of mid-market businesses are seriously considering big data analytics.

Provide Solutions, Calm Fears

The two-part mission of MSPs looking to crack the SMB BI market is simple: provide solutions and calm fears. While BI is a complex area in which to provide managed services, it offers tremendous growth potential and can also help lead to other systems upgrades, as a BI system must collect data from an SMB’s entire IT environment. And to successfully win the hearts of SMB BI customers, MSPs must also calm their fears. This means ensuring concerns about issues such as data security and integration are thoroughly addressed and resolved. It also means ensuring that SMB desires for BI solutions that are easy to use and integrate are met.