Managed technology provider Onepath has released a study that should be a wake-up call to business analytics users in SMBs: You’re probably not getting the return on your analytics investment that you should be.

Despite 67% of SMBs spending $10,000 USD or more annually on analytics software and people, and 75% spending at least 132 hours annually on maintenance tasks related to analytics, 86% of leaders say they could be using them better.

Business analytics is a huge investment, but the outcomes of good business data analytics can be huge, and survey respondents seem to understand that. More than 50% said the loss of analytics would slow production times, delay customer service, and lead to detrimental business decisions being made.

“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 Onepath senior vice president of sales Brian Kirsch.

SEE: Hiring kit: Computer Systems Analyst (TechRepublic Premium)

Why business analytics isn’t delivering for SMBs

So why aren’t SMBs able to capitalize on their analytics investments to the fullest extent? No surprise here: Most SMBs lack the in-house resources available to larger organizations.

It’s not just lack of staff that is causing the issue, though 57% do say they lack the people needed to implement an analytics program. More respondents (62%) said they could do a proper job with the right training.

Onepath remarked that a lack of qualified people and proper training hasn’t stopped SMBs from making initial investments in analytics platforms. The initial investment isn’t all it takes to be successful, though: Continued investment in the form of training and hiring is required for continued returns from reliable analyses.

“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,” Kirsch said.

Help can come in the form of new hires with analytics skills, or professional development for those who will be using analytics software as part of their job. Once that’s complete, it’s essential to have a good plan for your analytics to ensure the final outcome is a success.

As covered previously by TechRepublic, businesses can improve their analytics by doing things like:

  • Developing a holistic analytics strategy to avoid siloing of data, which is a sure way to lose valuable information needed for good decision making;

  • Building an analytics team from across the organization to be sure all possible considerations are made, and be sure to train those people accordingly;

  • Implementing a data governance program to ensure everything is accounted for, organized, and closely controlled;

  • Making sure your analytics platform integrates with other business software and has a wide variety of potential applications–new analytics needs arise constantly.

Image: iStockphoto/NicoElNino