Imagine you are a small business owner primarily dealing in construction hardware products like cement, sand, gravel, iron rods, etc. Customers come to your shop and purchase goods. Some pay you then and there while some take on credit. Day in and day out you purchase products to fill your stocks and sell them off to customers to bring in the moolah. In addition to selling directly to customers you also distribute goods to other shops around you directly from your warehouse. Records are maintained in long ledger books and constantly referred to make sure pending dues are settled and to check existing stocks, often resulting in spending a lot of time to reconcile books. In spite of this all seems perfectly fine as long as it’s sunshine. But the construction business does have its break period. During the rains there's no construction activity. Even worse, storing cement during the monsoons is not a good idea as it toughens it. Also a lot of sand gets washed away with the rain. Iron rods get rusted too. This results in tremendous loss.
In such a situation what is one to do? What can be done to minimize losses and help increase profits? I am a Business Intelligence guy and for me data is sacred. Data, no matter the size holds the key to the future. Converting this data into knowledge is my job.
Very few small and medium size companies in today’s times know about data analytics or take it seriously. For them it’s just a useless investment. But given a chance, it can prove vital to a company’s growth and in taking it to the next level. Tracking sales, having customized reports developed showing profit and loss, measurement against Key Performance Indicator’s (KPI’s) and year on year trends are just some of the awesome features available to a company’s fingertips. Using predictive analysis it helps companies foresee the future and take corrective actions or kick in some special offers to boost sales.
My business idea is to take this data analytics to small and medium size companies. Office 365 with its pick and choose features enables this by letting companies only choose what they want and by spending a meagre amount for them.
Using Access, I would create a database to store the daily sales and purchases keeping data in an organized way. Excel would allow me to enter data and apply any calculations using complex formulas on the fly.
Lync would allow me to keep the men at the warehouse and at the head office in sync to ensure that goods are delivered on time and to the correct quantity.
As an add-on Publisher would allow me to improve my billing formats and be more creative while being professional.
I would do all this just by spending around 12.50 (around Rs.700/-) per user per month which is very less for an enterprise and also too less for the value they bring. In addition, there's Outlook for modern day emailing, Word for high end text formatting and One Note for team meetings.
By using SharePoint Online at $3.00 (Rs.162.57/-) per user per month I could create dashboards showing sales, purchases and pending dues. going in depth I would see which products fetch me my highest margins and how much procurement is good enough for a time period. Also using the variety of charts available I would show trends using charts. Also by defining KPI’s I would keep track of my performance. By observing the data I would understand that sales go to a low during the monsoons. Hence I would cut down on external construction material and stock up on internal construction material like tiles and plumbing material, resulting in greater profits and lesser losses. In short enable better decision making.
This is just in case of a hardware store. These analytics can be applied to other companies too. All this would help a company grow by making use of the intelligence provided by me and the Office 365 tools. With the huge untapped market of small and medium sized industries this business has huge potential and can reach a billion in returns in a few years. That too with the customer spending merely Rs. 900/- per month. The small amount makes the offer even lucrative and I think this is the best investment that can be made with every chance of a return in terms of 100 times.