We think small-to-medium enterprises should be in the forefront of Big Data. It isn't all about Google and Facebook. Here are some of the reasons why.
"...know the problem you?re trying to solve, start small - small businesses may have an advantage in that they?re probably looking at a smaller universe of queries and are focusing on specific problems. But before you can be great at something, you have to be good. So starting small isn?t a drawback." - Forbes
It almost sounds trite, saying that small businesses are in a better position than big businesses to change how they do things in response to insight gained from Big Data. Possibly trite, but undeniably true. Big Business can put funds behind the research, and faith in the insights, but if those insights can't be implemented in a timely fashion, they are just expensive visions of another business's future.
Where large businesses are often adopting Big Data in order to derive value from the masses of data they are required to store, SMEs have the relative luxury of being able to store their more modest data and almost immediately look for external sources (of which there are many) from which to derive insight.
To put it another way, big businesses are their own universe, deriving value from the data they have, whilst SMEs interact with the universe out there, looking for insight and value from the constellations of open data.
?Huge datasets on everything from demographics to weather and consumer spending habits are freely available online ? if you know where to look. Plus, the basic tools to make sense of the data are also free and becoming increasingly simple for anyone to use.? - Bernard Marr.
Big businesses don't necessarily have Big Data, but they very often have lots of data. Big Data is not just about volume (though that has certainly been a driver), Big Data is about Value. Specifically, deriving value from the volume of data. But if your pool of internal data isn't that big, you are freer to go looking for a greater variety of targeted data by which to increase your volume. If you asked the right questions before going looking for those external data sets, then you will get a better quality of answers when you analyse your internal data alongside your external data.
Do what big companies can't
"...small businesses tended to be dominated by their owner-managers, who made decisions on the basis of their past experiences and any consumer information they could get their hands on. For example, one firm, having been asked by a retailer to produce a range of ready meals, simply looked at other products on the market and tried to imitate them. In other cases, the small firms followed guidelines laid down by the big retail buyers.
Once they were given access to loyalty-card data, most of the small firms took to it immediately. They were quick to adopt a more formalized approach to marketing planning. They were able to envision long-range innovations, rather than reacting to competitors? or the retailers? actions." - Small Businesses Need Big Data, Too, by Christina Donnelly & Geoff Simmons, Harvard Business Review.
For more on Big Data from a SME perspective: