If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

– Sun Tzu, The Art Of War.

Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are adopting business intelligence services and software, based from a report by research analyst IDC. The trend has increased nearly 40 percent last year. The business intelligence tools market was valued at more than USD188 million in the first six months of 2007, with SMEs contributing almost one-fourth to the total spending.

SMEs are companies or organizations which employ a workforce of 500 or less. Modern and successful SMEs have maturing IT infrastructure, steady levels of applications deployment, and increasing business requirements that generate ad hoc analysis through means such as account ledgers and spreadsheets, which can be considered as slow, primitive and increasingly unreliable for decision-making purposes.

Business intelligence are concepts, methods and tools to better business decision-making by using fact-based support systems.

Business intelligence systems can provide past, current and future observations of business operations, using the data gathered into a data warehouse and data gathered from operations.

Software elements support the extraction, analysis and presentation of business information as applications deal with sales, production, financial, and many other sources of business data for purposes that include business performance management. Information can be gathered on competitors or rival companies to generate benchmarks.

Business intelligence programs work best particularly to businesses planning a new product; those programs looking at how an industry can develop over the next five to ten years; and those programs perceptive of a new potential new business, merger, acquisition or business partnership.

Business intelligence is not necessarily expensive because it is ‘open source’. Information can be obtained from “public” references such as magazines, books and the Internet. The information gathered from these sources can be used as guide for production, pricing and marketing strategies.

SMEs can utilize business intelligence as an effective measure for increasing markets share and penetrating new markets through product development and innovation. Adding value to a product or design and services are essential to succeeding in global competition. Professional firms can direct their services to acquire research and information in order to improve the competitiveness of SMEs and their respective niche industries.

For example, making and utilizing business intelligence is consolidation among the firms in the software industry. Major players such as IBM and Oracle, for example, have announced multi-million dollar acquisitions of software companies.

The IDC research report estimates that the ongoing consolidation will favor end-users of software as these software companies increasingly bundle business intelligence into their products, which can drives costs down as adoption of the information increases.

The research report also forecasts that the business intelligence market in Asia Pacific to reach USD600 million in total spending by the year 2011.

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