Big Data, Small Business, Small Business CIO

Big Data, Small Business

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

Big Data is a Big story these days and has been for some time.

Big Data is a big business too….and will most likely continue to grow.

Big Data is a topic that many in large organizations are talking about…as are many consulting and technology companies. HP, among others, has a great deal of future business riding on Big Data and the underlying architecture. They’ve published an interesting report titled Information Optimization: Turning Information into better Enterprise Decisions (PDF download) that’s worth a read.

In a research report titled “Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity” by McKinsey & Co, an argument is made that Big Data will:

…become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation, and consumer surplus

The McKinsey report describes seven key ‘insights’…they are:

  1. Data have swept into every industry and business function and are now an important factor of production, alongside labor and capital
  2. Big Data can create Big Value (more on this in a minute)
  3. The use of big data will become a key basis of competition and growth for individual firms
  4.  The use of big data will underpin new waves of productivity growth and consumer surplus
  5. While the use of big data will matter across sectors, some sectors are set for greater gains
  6. There will be a shortage of talent necessary for organizations to take advantage of big data.
  7. Several issues will have to be addressed to capture the full potential of big data.

The full-report is available for download here.

All these key ‘insights’ are spot on and nothing new…for big organizations. But…what about small businesses?   Does Big Data make itself available to Small Business?  Or…more appropriately…does Small Business have access to the Big Data tools, data and talent?

In order to play in the Big Data world, you’ve got to have data. And the ability to utilize that data.

Does Small Business have data? Yes. Does Small business have the ability to utilize that data? Maybe..maybe not.

Insight #6 from McKinsey will hit Small Business extremely hard.  If there’s a shortage of Talent in the broader market, just imagine the shortage of talent and capabilities in the small business market.

Not only is there a shortage of talent…but there seems to be a shortage in tools too. Not that the tools out there today can’t be used by small businesses…its just that most tools are either too expensive or not available for their data.

The benefits of Big Data are many…if you have the capability to use / consume  it.   There are some real benefits to using Data for decisions.

But for small business to use Big Data, they have to 1.) Have Data;  2.) Know how to consume that data to analyze it; and 3.) Know how to analyze that data.

Kevin Tea touches on the importance of Big Data today in an article titled Big Data – Deal With The Negatives To Enjoy The Positives over on the Enterprise CIO Forum.  Kevin writes about the positives behind Big Data and the ways companies can use data to drive innovation and performance. A few key items are:

  • Make big data more accessible and timely.
  • Segment populations to customize.
  • Use automated algorithms to replace and support human decision making.
  • Innovate with new business models, products, and services

Good points.

But…are any of these points realistic for small business?

Point #1 is a requirement. The other four are nice and would be wonderful for small businesses to take advantage of but I wonder if they will ever be able to?

I wonder if Big Data & Small Business are even meant to play together?  If I owned a small business, I’d want to know everything i could about my business, my customers and my industry. I’d then want to be able to take that data and use it for making decisions and driving innovation in my business.

I just wonder if small businesses have the right tool set and skill set to take advantage of the explosion in Data. I wonder if small business owners have the data. I wonder if Big Data will drive innovation, performance and improvements for big business but leave Small Business behind.

I’d like to see more small businesses be in a position to take advantage of the analytic capabilities that are popping up everywhere today.

Is Big Data another ‘fad’ to sell more consulting services and technology platforms.  Is Big Data just another repackaging of what most smart organizations have always done?  Maybe. Maybe not. Either way…the need for small business to have access to analytics and data is as important today than it has ever been.

I’d love to hear your stories of how small businesses are using data to drive their business.  Drop me a comment or email.

Image Credit: Visualization of Twitter bios in the big data community By metaroll on flickr

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

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About Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. is a data scientist, technology consultant and entrepreneur with an interest in using data and technology to solve problems. When not building cool things, Eric can be found outside with his camera(s) taking photographs of landscapes, nature and wildlife.
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Software AG
12 years ago

Every business should have access to as much information/data/analytics as they can. It’s the only way you can get a complete picture of your company, inside and out. What’s “Big Data” to a business is relevant to how much information they have to sort through. A small business can still take advantage of analytics.