Research shows that companies that invest in sophisticated analytics tools gain a competitive advantage and perform better.
However, this level of data analysis has been the domain of big business and more or less out of reach for small business owners.
Dan Norris from Informly believes that is about to change – and in fact swing back the other way.
“Cloud adoption among small business owners is exploding. There are many benefits like the ability to access services from anywhere, lower upfront costs and more integrated and sophisticated applications. But as an offshoot of this, more and more data is being stored in the cloud which means it can be analysed and used by small business owners unlike ever before.”
“Small businesses are flexible, and tech savvy operators can move services like project management, customer relationship management and accounting to the cloud easily. They aren’t inhibited by the old infrastructure that restricts large companies and once in the cloud, they can use this data to better understand their business and make better decisions.”
His view is supported by leading cloud accounting platform Xero who have grown to 100,000 customers in 100 countries since launching in 2006.
“Having your data in the Cloud helps you make better decisions by giving you the ability to share and collaborate with colleagues and advisors, wherever you and they are,” says Tony Rule, Product Manager, Xero API.
The recently launched start-up, Informly is a free web and mobile app that talks to popular cloud services, like Google Analytics and Xero, and shows business owners a simple one-page report on how they are performing. This enables them to save time since it’s all in the one place, but according to Dan this isn’t the only benefit.
“Dashboards have been around for a long time and they all promote the same message which is that small business owners are spending too much time in various systems understanding their data. But through my research and 6 years working directly with small business owners, I’ve found this is often not the case. Many small business owners wouldn’t understand much of a typical website analytics report. The issue isn’t just that there are a lot of systems to log into, it’s that the reports themselves are too complex and small business owners don’t have the time to learn each system’s reports. The data doesn’t just have to be centralised, it has to be simplified.”
How exactly does Informly work?
Informly distils a company’s data from many cloud based systems (such as MailChimp, Google Analytics and Xero) into a handful of simple charts on the one page.
The charts compare month by month giving context and are colour coded so business owners can see immediately which areas are going well and what needs attention. Combine this simplicity with the benefit of having them all in the one place means business owners can spend a few minutes and have an excellent grasp of how their business is doing. And with the mobile versions, they don’t even need to be at their desk to do it.
But according to Norris this isn’t where it ends. “Not only can we show charts from different services side by side but we can also combine information from various places into the one chart. For example a lot of our users are putting out regular content such as blog posts or podcasts. Our ‘Post Impact’ chart brings together a range of social signals such as comments, tweets etc and plots recent posts on a chart showing which posts went well and which didn’t. A quick scan of this can show business owners what they need to focus on to get more impact next time around.”
Informly has been available as a limited release for a few months while the launch version was refined. The response to the private beta was great with over 1,000 people signing up to use the app before access was closed a few months ago.
So far, there are 12 services integrated with many more on the way. The free version of Informly enables users to add up to 6 charts and paid plans start at $9 / month. So if you’re a business owner, you can visit inform.ly, sign up and build your report immediately.