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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Survey Finds SMBs Aren’t Fully Leveraging Business Analytics

Despite spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on data analytics solutions every year, 86 percent of SMB managers and executives surveyed said their companies could be making better use of these technologies.

Note: TDWI’s editors carefully choose vendor-issued press releases about new or upgraded products and services. We have edited and/or condensed this release to highlight key features but make no claims as to the accuracy of the vendor's statements.

Onepath, a long-time provider of managed technology services to small and midsize businesses (SMBs), completed a survey of more than 100 managers and executives in SMBs about data analytics. The research found that 67 percent of SMBs are spending at least $10,000 annually on people and technology to maintain their data analytics solutions, and 75 percent of survey respondents reported spending at least 132 hours each year on maintenance of these systems. Even so, the vast majority said their companies could be making better use of their solutions.

The paradox of the survey results -- that company spending on data analytics tools isn’t returning full value for the investments -- seems rooted in the fact that SMBs recognize the tremendous benefits data analytics can provide. For example, 59 percent of survey respondents said it would take longer to deliver products if managers and executives didn’t have access to data from their analytics solutions, and 56 percent said it would take longer to service customers. Over half (54 percent) said that without the data, their companies might actually make decisions that would harm their business.

What’s keeping SMBs from maximizing the value of their data analytics tools? As is the case with other technologies, many SMBs simply don’t have the resources in-house to properly vet, deploy, and use these systems. For example, 57 percent said they didn’t have the right people to manage the process of implementing the solutions, and 62 percent said they could make better use of the tools if they had more training. Of course, neither of these problems has prevented SMBs from buying data analytics solutions, which respondents reported are being used across major departments (including sales, marketing, finance, and engineering). The survey found that IT is the biggest user of data analytics tools.

“There seems to be very little debate as to whether data analytics tools are necessary for SMBs – they all agree these systems add tremendous value and could be delivering even more,” said Brian Kirsch, senior vice president of sales at Onepath. “The issue is that the tools can be hard to set up, overly complicated, and a pain to maintain. We tell SMBs all the time: One way or another, you’re going to need help if you want to get the most value out of your data analytics technologies.”

Other noteworthy data points from the Onepath survey:

  • Sixty percent of SMBs are using a web- or cloud-based data analytics system. Only 9% are still using an offline tool such as Microsoft Excel

  • The systems are used for a variety of purposes, including decisions on how to grow the business (66 percent), budgets (59 percent) and staffing (40 percent)

  • Over a third (35 percent) said it took too long to implement their data analytics solution, and 49 percent said they could make better use of the tools if they were easier to use

  • Nearly 1 in 5 respondents (19%) have three or fewer people inside the company whose job it is to maintain these solutions; 60 percent of the companies surveyed have between 100 and 500 employees.

A complete view of the survey results is available at

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