Close to 5,000 people gathered in Paris’s La Défense district for the 4th Big Data Paris expo: a major event for a booming industry. But big data isn’t just for big business; it also affects SMEs, who can improve performance by analysing large data sets.
Just a few years ago ‘big data’ was a term reserved for mathematicians in IT departments at large companies. Now, the big data revolution is impacting all companies, big or small. The development of multi-purpose, affordable, easy-to-use solutions has opened up extraction and mining of large volumes of data to SMES. The challenge? Accessing, viewing, storing and using the data quickly and easily to extract valuable information, and therefore value. That goes for data that is structured (e.g. customer or product databases) and unstructured (images, sound files, videos, etc.). This can be done using reporting tools, dashboards or multidimensional analyses.
When SMEs improve results with big data
Analysing data can lead to increased productivity and new opportunities, a prospect not to be sniffed at by any company in today’s economic climate, which is volatile to say the least.
• Sales: Big data provides a better awareness and understanding of customer purchasing habits by analysing the buying process, shopping bag contents, transactions, and more. The goal: to make consumer ‘fall in love’ (i.e. buy more), and win their loyalty.
• Healthcare: The effectiveness of internal structures can be monitored and diagnoses can be made more precise by examining patient data.
• Finance: Analysing data provides a clearer idea of market risks and makes it possible to scrutinize profit and losses.
Wider use of big data has been creeping up over the last few months, becoming a decisive growth factor in all areas of activity.
Is better data management on the cards?
SMEs need to remove the obstacles: big data is still often thought of as an additional cost rather than an investment. However, sources of information are growing, and SMEs can now use readily available tools to analyse data feeds or bespoke solutions adapted to their specific needs.
Providing big data training is, of course, vital. But it is also necessary to break down silos in companies and make them grow by creating a culture that constantly challenges the status quo. Abed Ajraou, Head of BI at Solocal Group, suggests moving away from an organisation based on business lines or technologies towards one defined by data or services provided.
In terms of tools, several providers use the cloud to set up flexible platforms that do not require in-depth technical knowledge. What this really means is creating an infrastructure that is capable of processing any kind of data before business-intelligence is applied (analytical algorithms) to extract meaning.
That is precisely the challenge of big data: it is easy to drown in the vast ocean of information, so it is of real strategic importance to outline indicators that will allow you to extract added value from it. It can make your offering stand out and help you beat the competition.
Phoro credit: justgrimes – data (scrabble) / Flickr.com / Licence CC BY-SA 2.0