But for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) lacking the appropriate budgets and IT resources, this flood of data can be overwhelming. That said, it’s promising to see that recent research conducted by SAP in conjunction with Oxford Economics found almost two-thirds of SMEs strongly believe technology helps them achieve longevity and sustainable growth.
As the volume of data continues to grow in the future, companies will need to better understand, monitor and analyse this data to make business decisions and predictions. This is especially important for SMEs: while they don’t have the vast resources of larger firms, they can typically implement business decisions more quickly than industry giants and harnessing big data can make them even more nimble.
Unveiling new opportunities
Typically, SMEs have a wealth of data, most of which remains unexplored and unused. Looking ahead, Gartner estimates that 20 per cent of global organisations will be putting big data strategies into place by 2015, so SMEs need to keep ahead of the curve in order to remain competitive. Having a strategy in place to analyse this data helps unravel opportunities which might otherwise remain untapped; predicting trends in sales and understanding customer behaviour are just a couple of examples.
Increasing business efficiency and responsiveness
Being as efficient as possible is, of course, always front of mind for businesses of all size, but what is often not considered is the impact understanding data can have on processes and the overall running of a business. With the right analytics strategy in place, SMEs can deliver personalised offers for new customer experiences based on real-time data.
Furthermore, for SMEs bombarded with questions from customers, suppliers and internal employees that require quick investigation, being able to make speedy decisions and provide immediate responses is crucial. Analytics tools help deliver answers quickly, so firms can respond appropriately to all requests and waste less time tracking down information.
Managing business growth in new markets
Big data can also help SMEs prepare for growth by providing immediate insight on key business drivers and objectives. This is particularly important when expanding a business into new markets as naturally this can be challenging, particularly as often the region can be unknown. As such, having access to relevant data regarding where the gaps are, where demand for your product is high, and the competitive landscape is key. Only then can accurate decisions be made to ensure the expansion strategy is accurate.
It’s no secret that analysing data can have a huge impact on businesses and while many SMEs are starting to get to grips with the concept of big data – particularly the more ambitious, forward-thinking organisations – using this data to deliver actionable insights is still a territory many are afraid to step into. The next few years are going to be pivotal as we see the data explosion predicted by the IDC so those that think quickly and adopt the right tools and technologies now are the ones that will achieve sustainable, fast growth in the future.
John Bryceland is the Head of SME Sales at SAP UKI.
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