SMBs Lacking BI

Here's a frustrating thing about running an IT shop for an SMB: Not only does it seem like nobody in the vendor community is listening to you, it seems like the vendors don't even know what they sold you.  

After years of preaching about the value of business intelligence applications to help people run their businesses better, one of the dirty little secrets of this industry is that the vendors rarely practice what they preach when it comes to making use of BI software.

As a result, they have no real idea of what equipment customers already have and therefore can't really consult with the customer about what the next logical thing they might need actually is.

A lot of this lack of visibility has to do with the myriad ways that SMBs (small and midsize businesses) go about acquiring technology. Sometimes SMB customers will buy direct from a manufacturer. Other times they will buy from a reseller who in turn is sourcing product from a distributor rather than from the vendors directly. Other times customers will opt to buy something through a local retail outlet or even a retailer like if they need it in a hurry.

It would be nice to think that manufacturers would be able to sift through these transactions to get a 360-degree view of their customers. But the reality of the situation is that all these transactions flow through different systems that are not connected in any meaningful way. Even systems within the manufacturers' own systems are discombobulated. Rare is the manufacturer that can actually connect the dots between a customer buying products from them and the same customer that buys products through that vendor's network of resellers.

A big part of the problem has to do with silly things like the fact that all these different transactions might have slightly different renderings of the customer's name, thereby making it difficult to realize that Acme Manufacturing and Acme Inc. are actually the same customer.

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