With the global pandemic dramatically accelerating enterprises' modernization roadmaps, small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), once reluctant to embrace the digital realm, are now quickly building up troves of valuable data as a result of adoption of electronic platforms.
The problem? Many of these SMBs aren't entirely capable of extracting that data from these platforms, analyzing it, and taking action as a result of that analysis. The result is a major missed opportunity at a time when SMBs need as many arrows in the quiver as possible to remain viable and thrive amid economic uncertainty.
"[SMBs] experience data overload," he told PYMNTS. "Clunky dashboards, inconsistent data and over-complicated reports. They are time-poor and do not have time to decipher all of these data points." Yet at the same time, he added, "they want to be data-driven."
Helping businesses extract valuable information from their various digital platforms is important, but it's only one step in empowering SMBs with data.
Pinpointing The Most Valuable Data
While businesses continue to embrace a variety of digital portals, from accounting to digital banking tools, there are two sources of data that can be especially valuable for SMBs.
"POS [point of sale] and eCommerce [systems are] the most immediate indicator of an [SMB's] performance," explained Afshar. "It is the coalface of the business performance indicators."
While portals like accounting systems provide visibility into profitability, they can be out of date and require a high degree of reconciliation to actually make use of that data. POS and eCommerce portals, on the other hand, provide up-to-date insight into activity performance of a company, often in real time.
That's not to say that accounting and other sources of data aren't valuable. As SMBs continue to accelerate their digital transformations, there will be more opportunities to aggregate and analyze information across these portals. And it's imperative that SMBs are able to work with a third-party partner in order to actually extract data and analyze it, rather than struggling with a go-it-alone approach.
For Amaka, that means presenting this information in a familiar way. The company's latest software offering, FitBiz, likens itself to a FitBit.
"You have a FitBit to track your physical performance," said Afshar. "Why not have a FitBit that tracks your business activity and gives you insights?"
Engagement Through Gamification
Being able to collect data and analyze it is only one piece of the puzzle, however. It's one thing to present an SMB with actionable insights — it's quite another to actually encourage that entrepreneur to take action.
FitBiz has developed a model to gamify this process, which Afshar described as a key component of customer engagement.
"Engagement is the name of the game," he said. "As people, we have so many constraints on our personal attention bandwidth; if you can't make it simple and engaging, then don't make it."
Gamification allows the company to interact with an SMB at a deeper level and actually encourage that SMB to act based on what the analysis tells them. For Amaka and its FitBiz solution, this means sending overviews of business activity to the inbox and allowing SMBs to unlock "achievements" and awards based upon their performance, such as achieving weekly revenue goals. This strategy, Amaka explained in a press release, allows SMB owners to continually adjust their key performance indicators (KPIs) based on both data analytics as well as previous accomplishments.
This kind of interactive relationship between an SMB and its back-office portals is the future of B2B FinTech, according to Afshar, both to elevate the value of these platforms for the SMB, as well as ensure that those platforms are actually capturing the attention of busy SMB owners.
"If you are building a B2B FinTech, you need to be able to engage with your end customer — usually a time-poor, busy person — in new and exciting ways," he said.