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Big Data for Small Businesses

Daniel Ng, Senior Director for APAC, Cloudera | May 26, 2016
Even though the opportunity is huge, SMEs can start by taking baby steps towards leveraging big data.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

It has been estimated that we would have generated 40,000 exabytes, or 40 trillion gigabytes (GB), of data by 2020. That is equivalent to 5,200 GB of data for every human on earth. In other words, we are seeing an explosion of the digital universe.

It is impossible to comprehend just how much data is produced each day - and just how little of it is really being put to use. This creates a vast blue ocean of opportunities for enterprises, including small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), to tap into and elevate their current hold in their respective marketplaces.

Many SMEs currently lack staff with the right skillsets to fully leverage on big data and analytics. It is also common for small business owners and management within SMEs to think that big data means 'big cost' or 'big business.' Many are hesitant to explore big data initiatives because they believe that it requires major investment in hardware and software. In general, many traditional SMEs have been known to be reluctant towards embracing change.

Big data brings big opportunities

Every company began as a start-up. The success of Amazon is a clear showcase of the power of big data and how data can be tapped on to transform a small start-up into a massive industry disrupter and market leader.

Traditional bookstores used to track inventories - i.e., the books that are being stocked, those that are moving off the shelves and which are best sellers. This changed when retail moved online. Online bookstores can now see exactly what each customer is buying, how often they are buying, and even how they prefer to pay.

Soon after, by leveraging data, Amazon not only could track what customers bought, but also what they showed interest in, how they navigated the webpage, as well as how individuals reacted to promotions and similarities across different segments. Later on, Amazon developed algorithms to predict which books an individual customer was most likely to buy next. With this, Amazon transformed the traditional brick-and-mortar retailer into a data-driven e-commerce giant.

Digital footprints of customers have, for some time now, been revealing purchase patterns, preferences and interests, allowing businesses to implement more insight-driven tactics when engaging them. Suddenly, we are in an era where customer profiles are much clearer and more detailed. This is a new era of customer understanding. Just like the data, the opportunities are exploding too.

Starting small with big data

Even though the opportunity is huge, SMEs can start by taking baby steps towards leveraging big data. They can focus their efforts and dive deep into a few business critical sets of data. For example, sales in a specific sector, or performance metrics during peak versus low seasons. This will definitely yield quicker and better results than trying to take on too much, too soon.


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