Big data and the potential it offers to big business has dominated many headlines in recent months.
That statement is especially true as corporate behemoths start reaping the rewards of their investments in data analysis by boosting the bottom line.
However, the story for small and medium-size businesses has not been at the forefront of the news. But it should top the agenda for SMBs, which can reap the same rewards from the avalanche of data tumbling into their corporate confines.
Consider a new report from Emergent Research and Intuit that disputes the notion that big data will create a new “digital divide” between the largest businesses and their small and medium-size competitors.
“Big data has long been seen as a big opportunity for big business,” Intuit President and CEO Brad Smith notes in a recent CIO article. “We actually think that the biggest opportunity is giving consumers and small businesses the power of data. We look forward to a new era where big data benefits the little guy.”
The report predicts that over the next five to seven years, new technologies and analytical tools will enable businesses as well as consumers to analyze volumes of data to obtain actionable information to fuel better, more strategic decision making.
“The growing access to this massive volume of information – and the ability to refine and analyze it – makes it a new type of raw material, on par with capital and labor,” the report notes. “Advanced analytics will move from the domain of specialists to everyday users. Data will be a key driver of global economic growth in the 21st century digital economy, with a profound effect on all aspects of society – business, science, health care, finance, government and entertainment.”
In fact, the big data battleground is not only open to SMBs, but some may actually be able to ramp up data analysis initiatives more quickly than their larger counterparts, notes TechRepublic.
That’s because larger companies with big data sets often have to devote more money and time to corral the various data that could be scattered over a wide array of enterprise systems. In smaller companies data may already be more consolidated, the article notes.
“At least half the battle of generating intelligence from data is having readily available data to begin with, so while your smaller organization might not be able to afford a massive big data initiative, you can start deriving actionable information from your data while the big competitor is still cleaning and consolidating,” notes TechRepublic.
“Furthermore, like ERP, CRM, and other enterprise platforms, big data is rapidly commoditizing. Just as anyone with a credit card can subscribe to one of the cloud-based business software platforms and have Fortune 500 IT services in a matter of minutes, big data analytics are slowly moving out of the confines of the enterprise server room,” according to the article.
But how can SMBs get started in data analysis to get the same advantages as big business – such as predicting the products or offers that will attract the most customers?
First, SMBs must ensure they are providing engaging information to customers and potential customers via their websites and on the social web, suggests Forbes.
The article also suggests that SMBs:
- Aim to capture and analyze data from as many sources as possible.
- Try to analyze information in real time whenever possible.
- Avoid getting bogged down in data that does not directly grow the business.
- Do not make guesses about what customers want. Ask them via engagement on social media outlets.
- Tap analytics to mine big data for actionable insight.