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Cognos.com Tip: Are you a small businessperson and you're wondering how to start using business intelligence products and techniques? You may realize your company is a few increments of sales growth away from being able to start investing in this wonderful technology. Don't despair, there may be some ways to embrace some incremental BI capabilities on a shoestring.
·CRM – Customer Relationship Management is most definitely a BI tool. However, there are numerous systems on the market that allow you to perform a subset of CRM functions. Start to use tools to build your data repository and when you grow into formalized BI, you're part of the way there.
·High-end digital copier business capture systems - Most copier manufacturers are aligned with vendors (eCopy of Nashua, NH, for example) that offer software solutions that can be added to certain higher-end copier products to permit the copier to serve as a source of input of paper documentation into databases, spreadsheets, archives and other data repositories. As in the case of the contact management applications, a capability like this will get a small company on the way to achieving a level of transparency of data and, subsequently, the ability to access data electronically, make better decisions, and to strive for an entry-level of performance management.
·All-in-one home office printers - Let's say you can't justify a sophisticated copier with document capture ability. The answer may lie with your HP, Brother, or Lexmark multi-function laser or inkjet printer. These devices are amazing entry-level data handling machines and with their integrated fax, scan, copy, and print ability, provide a modicum of information handling technology that the clever small businessperson can cobble into data repositories, dashboards, scorecards, and the like, so that you too, can apply the principals of BI in advance of a major investment in formalized BI software.