By Rob Woollen, CEO & Co-Founder, Sigma Computing

Startups need to be lean. Breaking into a crowded field on a shoestring budget often means out-innovating competitors without the resources established companies enjoy. This requires new companies to find creative solutions to the stickiest business problems— which is why the most disruptive companies breed cultures known to be wily, innovative, and nimble.

But you can’t build a competitive data stack with duct tape and elbow grease. To compete in a data-driven world, startups must have access to the same powerful data analytics tools as the big players.

Luckily, the answer to that question lies in the cloud.

Cloud-native business intelligence (BI) stacks are leveling the playing field for startups looking to not only compete against large enterprises, but to disrupt entire industries. Startups of all sizes can leverage BI capabilities in the same way much (MUCH) larger companies can. And by utilizing cloud-native solutions that eliminate data silos and improve accessibility, startups turn what has traditionally been a weakness into an advantage. Long gone are the days of expensive on-premises data solutions that have historically been hard for startup to manage. Today’s alternatives deliver insights in a fraction of the time, and without massive infrastructure costs.

What makes cloud-based data solutions so appealing to startups?

Faster Insights and Greater Accessibility

Most on-premises BI tools require a significant amount of setup and training to get the most out of them. Companies need trained analysts and SQL gurus which come at a price tag and also an extended timeline for data analysis. Cloud-based options dramatically shorten setup and learning curves offer the ability to analyze modern data formats—like JSON—making it easy for any member of the team to quickly access the data without writing SQL, thanks to low-code and no-code BI alternatives. And with interfaces that are intuitive and user friendly, teams are more likely to feel empowered and come back with questions.

BI Built to Scale

The primary goal of any startup is to grow, and their data solutions must be able to grow along with them. Most startups start without a data pipeline or analytics backbone. As a result, they often use a myriad of systems, run custom SQL queries, and try to keep everything straight in Excel spreadsheet. It’s exhausting. And while it may work for a while, it definitely is not scalable.

Cloud-based analytics systems allow for customizable BI support that works seamlessly no matter the size. Small companies can offer every employee access to the data they need to succeed in a way that is easy to share and able to provide the insights needed to make important business decisions quickly and accurately. Most importantly, cloud-based systems scale on demand, providing the same benefits seamlessly as the company grows without the immense costs often associated with data storage and analysis.

Speaking of costs, companies using cloud data warehouses and cloud analytics tools pay only for what they use, eliminating massive, ongoing infrastructure costs. So they never overpay for data management or waste money on idle, over-provisioned databases—a common occurrence with legacy solutions. This pricing structure is flexible enough that companies can scale up or down as needed, giving everyone across an organization the ability to participate in the data conversation at a fraction of the cost.

Enterprise-Level Security from Day One

Sadly, one of the most vulnerable points in a startup’s life cycle is early on when security measures may not be sophisticated enough due to limited resources — making them a ripe target for cybercriminals. With access to enterprise-grade security provided by modern cloud data warehouses, like Snowflake and Redshift, startups benefit from world-class IT teams and leverage the same privacy standards that large companies enjoy. Patches and updates are released directly by the data warehouse vendor, meaning no maintenance is required and overhead is kept low.

Making data-driven decisions is no longer a luxury only the big players enjoy. In order to compete—or even survive—startups must think about the powerful capabilities of data analysis to keep their business afloat. Luckily, the answer to their access, scalability, cost, and security problems can all be found in the cloud.

Rob Woollen is co-founder and CEO of Sigma Computing, a cloud-native Business Intelligence & analytics solution that makes data accessible and approachable to everyone. Rob has more than 20 years of experience building distributed and cloud systems.

The cloud stock photo By Jirsak/Shutterstock