The world’s information is doubling every two years. Think about that for a second. Every two years, we generate twice as much data as the previous two years. It’s not hard to believe when you look at the staggering growth of both business and social networking, mobile internet access, tablets and smartphones. 

The amount of data that businesses create and consume is also exploding; according to IDC’s 2011 Digital Universe forecast, by 2020 businesses will need to deal with 50 times the amount of information they deal with today, but with only 1.5 times the number of IT staff to handle it. 
So where does all this extra data come from? The population certainly won’t be growing by 50 times in the next 7 years, I hope... 
As more and more people shop online, more web pages are visited, more clicks are tracked, more electronic orders are placed, more shipments are made and more returns are handled because people haven’t had the chance to actually try on that smart new shirt that looked so good on the website (45% of shoppers prefer to buy fashion online). Because the whole shopping process is handled via ecommerce systems, business owners have access to much more granular and accurate data than they would have done in the past; which in turn means more information and better detail in back-end and accounting systems. 
But it certainly doesn’t stop there. With the advent of cost effective end-to-end business tools like Brightpearl, every aspect of a business is being run electronically and doing its job to contribute to this explosive growth of information. Supplier management, inventory management, customer service, warehousing - every process generates accurate and genuinely useful data that needs to be stored somewhere.
As a small business owner, you’re probably already drowning in information. You’re managing a number of online marketing channels just on Google (product feed, organic search and SEO, Pay-Per-Click / Adwordswebsite analytics...) - let alone all the other search engines. You’ll have orders, customers, products, inventory, suppliers, purchases, customer service issues and staff to deal with - and that’s before we’ve even come to the accounting side of things! No wonder you’re busy.
Unless you have a good way to track all this data, and store it somewhere that lets you report on it to make informed business decisions, you’re going to get left behind. Business has moved on a lot since the days when an just an accounting system connected to an online shop was a satisfactory solution. 
Smart businesses run systems that let you track everything in one place, which means that many internal processes (such as updating your accounts and sales channels when inventory levels change) can be automated. Running everything in a single system also means that you can see what’s going on in your business much more easily, and most importantly you can trust the numbers.
So what’s the secret to success as more data pours into your organisation? Integrating as many separate systems as possible will introduce extra efficiency and let you capture more data points, from which you can make really good use of the 50x growth of information. It’s time to focus your entrepreneurial mind on intelligent, data-driven growth!

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About the Author

Having grown and sold two businesses, Chris is vastly experienced in the nature of small businesses and ecommerce, and has a business owner’s insight into the needs of an SME business. Chris studied at the University of Sheffield and has a MSc in Electronic Engineering; he started his first company at the age of 21. Being frustrated by a patchwork of traditional systems such as Sage, ACT! and OS-Commerce, but lacking the budget for the options available, Chris went on to develop Brightpearl. Chris keeps one eye on the wind and is always ready to kite-surf, although he mostly loves to work.