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Small businesses also need big data

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Fred Saayman, Huawei business unit executive at Pinnacle ICT.
Fred Saayman, Huawei business unit executive at Pinnacle ICT.

Big data plays a key role in understanding customers' preferences and needs, but to get the insights the business requires, the right data must be effectively collected and analysed. 

So says Fred Saayman, Huawei business unit manager at Pinnacle ICT.

“The idea of ‘big data’ grew out of the need to grasp the trends, preferences and patterns in the flood of data that is generated when people interact with various systems and with each other, and this data can provide insights to help businesses design new experiences, services and products.”

He says the rise of mobile technology has added to this flood of data, by creating a range of new ways for businesses to interact with their customers, and has driven a need for powerful analytics tools to understand the story our data is telling us.

Step in big data analytics, which has enabled the processing of data at scale at a much lower cost. “Large enterprises were quick to jump on this bandwagon, but big data analytics is not for these entities alone,” he says.

The term ‘big data’ has created the perception that the barrier for entry for these tools must be too high for small businesses. “There are also SME owners who think that 'big' isn’t for them and that a solution for processing 'small data' will be sufficient for their needs.”

This is a mistake, warns Saayman, as the data collected and analysed from smaller businesses’ information systems can grow very quickly and become unmanageable. 

“The barriers to entry aren’t too high. There is a variety of tried and tested algorithms that ensure that there isn’t too much coding needed and the cloud has enabled big data analytics at scale, even for smaller businesses.”

The cloud has enabled big data analytics at scale, even for smaller businesses.

This has been game-changing, particularly for smaller businesses that can’t benefit from the economies of scale to differentiate themselves on price alone, he adds.  This democratisation of analytics is enabling smaller businesses to focus on a data management system that is scalable and works best for them. 

“The days were there were different systems for hot data, and cold data, and structured and unstructured data are over. Systems are converging, and even big data is merging into a greater data management paradigm. Today, there are really only two categories of data, and those are profitable and non-profitable data. The former gives a competitive advantage, the latter does not."

Hi advice to businesses is to relook at their relationships with data and how they consume it.

The winner isn’t the business that knows the most - huge volumes of data are available to everyone - but  the one who has the right data at the right time. 

“In this way, big data isn’t about technology, it's about true business outcomes. Businesses need to know what to do with the data before simply deploying a big data system.”

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