Is Big Data for Small to Mid Size Businesses?

Today, the least a successful business needs is information that can help them tailor products and services to suit and appeal to customers. There is increasing need for collection, analysis and management of customer-related information, supplier and partner information in order to expand market share. Companies also need to monitor and improve their performance, improve quality of products and services, as well as reduce running costs. Big Data can also add value to small and medium-sized businesses by making information more transparent, accessible and available for use frequently.

Management and analysis of data into useful information for business’ benefit is increasingly becoming critical in an information age, especially because of increased demand for personalized services. Small and medium organizations can use intelligent  Big Data systems and platforms designed to collect, store, manage and analyze big amount of data to lower their costs of operation, compete more and win more markets. This is in addition to making use of available big data experts to move from current technologies.

Management and analysis of data with traditional technologies is challenging for big and small firms because of increasing volumes of data and the rate at which it is received. There is need to capture, analyze and manage data in real time to empower, monitor, tailor and improve Salesforce, loyalty programs, promotional campaigns, collection of revenues, website and other traffics. But volume and rate are not the only attributes of big data that small and medium organizations must understand in order to fully harness the benefits accruing from analyzing and using data: variety of data being received, processed and managed is increasingly large. IBM has even added veracity as another attribute, which is considerable bearing in mind that research shows that a third of managers won’t trust the information used to make decisions.

Previously, small and mid-sized businesses left Big Data platforms and big data technology to large organizations because of the misconception that mid and small business firms did not experience large amounts of data. Some experts view that, together with this, small and medium organizations were challenged by realization that they would need to invest in big data technologies and big data experts, which would increase costs. But it is well understood today that the actual definition of big data is a size of data that is bigger than what an organization was used to, and this affects every other firm regardless of its size. But the fundamental question that every firm should ask before making a decision to invest in big data technology and big data platforms is whether they have challenges with managing, collecting, analyzing the current volumes, rates and varieties of data or whether they will have such challenges in future (strategic planning and management).

Another of the key issues that small and medium organizations should take concern of in order to harness the benefits of managing big data is the challenges coming with big amount of data and how to solve them. These challenges include the uncertainty presented by inaccuracy of some data types, and the fact that traditional intelligence systems were not built with the idea of managing big data in mind. Another big challenge relates to their own limitation in hiring big data experts and buying new big data technologies. Part of the challenges is also to know how to use data in order to gain insights and how to use it for managerial reasons. Indeed, as mentioned earlier, research shows that a third of the managers will not trust the information used to make decisions.There is no doubt that small and medium organizations need to have a data strategy. Big Data technologies and big data platform can manage transaction data, interaction data, structured data and unstructured data. Organizations need to take concern of the two big data types to focus on. First is the category that is customer-related big data types and which will help them study customer behavior to determine preferences. Secondly, it is the big data types that relates to their own performance and processes. Both of these big data types can help them change according to the market demands, produce goods and offer services that appeal to customers, reduce costs of operations and production, manage their businesses well, manage their relationships with customers, win customer loyalty and increase profitability.

Today, small and medium organizations and businesses should identify need at hand before selecting a big data technology, big data platforms and solutions. This does not mean that a business cannot use multiple data frameworks to support its services where applicable, but it is considered imperative to consider issues of integration and future extendibility in order to keep their big data technology systems and big data platforms versatile, less complex and less bulky, cheaper to maintain and run. The market provides variety of big data platforms and big data technology used for specific purposes. Small and medium organizations are also required to invest in Big data experts to excel in its application.

Customer is becoming more informed by day, and there is great use of the internet to gain new information, compare prices among providers, buy products and services, as well as connect to others (and thus influence others as regards market issues) through social platforms. Thus, small and medium companies can use big data tools to collect and analyze data about their websites and improve on the same. Besides, big data systems and big data frameworks can add value by supporting instant customer feedback’s.

Coupled with this increased use of the internet, is the use of mobile telephony network for the same reasons. It is necessary for small and medium companies to think about big data systems and big data frameworks designed to work well with such trends. Some  big data frameworks and technologies help companies gain access to customer profiles and use messaging and integrated point of sale integration’s. This can help them create suitable customized customer loyalty programs. Some big data frameworks and technologies will enable companies to record and track foot traffic, capture data related to store visits and duration of visits, and use it to draw crucial conclusions that can help improve their performance.

Another opportunity is the big data frameworks, technologies and platforms that allow firms to compare customer-related information. Together with this, big data experts can help companies determine where to advertise or increase promotions and sales presentation efforts, where to shy away from because of high competition and what virgin markets exists for what types of products. Companies can also identify proper suppliers to work with to improve performance through comparing supplier-related information using big data platforms. Companies can also use big data technologies to Small and medium-sized companies that are of B2B type can also take advantage of the sales analytic big data technologies and big data experts to understand activity ratios. They can also use these systems and big data experts to understand sales cycle length and increase productivity of their sales teams. These Big data experts and systems can also help them to improve opportunity conversion.

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