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Do SMEs have Big Data issues?

One of the issues topping the agenda in large enterprises is “Big Data” which is essentially how you as an organisation make use of the ever increasing amount of data within your business and act on the information it produces.

But is Big Data really just for large enterprises and corporate’s? The simple answer is no.

In a business world which is evolving quicker than ever before all businesses need to be aware of what is going on both inside and outside of their environment. New start-ups are harnessing the data produced by mobile devices and shopping on line to analyse their customer buying habits and locations to build better profiles of their customer. Established businesses need to leverage the intelligence they already have access to through their existing systems and also plug into the new cloud and mobile technology.

The value is in the data itself and not the size of the data and what businesses do with that data which is important. Getting access to the right areas of the data and then being able to interpret the results for the benefit of the business, whether that’s making decisions of product strategy’s, cost savings, expansion in new locations or even buying a competitor, data is the key ingredient which will give you the information on which a business can base its decisions.

The major difference between large organisations and SMEs is the amount of people that can be allocated to analysis and interpret the data. It is therefore essential that SMEs have an understanding of the information they require and what they are going to do with that information to help grow the business or improve their existing services.

Using existing systems

SMEs have a plethora of information locked away in their accounting/business and CRM systems that can be used to make business critical decisions and also give them business insight into where to take the company in the future. By using built-in Business Intelligence tools as basic as standard reports and outputting them directly to Excel, a business can perform further data analysis and “what if” scenarios.

This can then be taken a step further using Excel integration tools that allow businesses to build in depth models and you can then use pivots or cube analysis to dive deeper into the trends. By combining different areas of your business system to achieve the data access required will give you a greater knowledge of what is happening with your business.

The final stage is to use automated Business Intelligence Dashboards which provide graphical interpretations of your key performance indicators which are always showing the latest information delivered to your desktop. This means that once designed you don’t have to go looking for the information or trends and you can take immediate action if needed.

Looking outside of your internal systems, products like Google Analytics or email marketing tools can give you valuable web traffic information and combined with your CRM system can give you valuable customer and prospect details which will allow you to find more buyers of your product or service.

SME’s can be the winners in Big Data

One of the other key differences between Corporates and SME’s is system integration. SME’s usually have integrated systems covering their accounting, supply chain and CRM which has huge advantages over companies who use disparate systems as the data is held centrally and is therefore more accessible.

So as an SME you can take full advantage of Big Data to make informed decisions about your business, whether for competitive advantage, efficiency savings or expansion, but make sure that you know why you want the information and also that its relevant. There is no point wasting a lot of time and effort getting into Big Data unless you know what you want to achieve as a result so before doing anything make sure you have a plan.

Stuart Anderson.

Director, Sales & Marketing at Pegasus Software Ltd