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February 6, 2015

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Big Data Isn’t Just for Big Companies Anymore

Ever since big data became a big buzzword, the assumption has been that big data would only deliver value to big companies. After all, only a large enterprise would have the resources required to effectively gather, store and analyze data.


But small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) have quite a bit of data of their own. SMBs also have more access to technology that enables them to take advantage of the data-driven insights provided by big data. As a result, many experts expect big data and related data analytics to play a much more prominent role with SMBs as early as this year.


Big data is largely defined by the three Vs – volume, velocity and variety. A high volume of data, collected through desktop and mobile devices, sensors and various Internet-connected products, is continuously flowing in real-time at a high velocity. This data comes in a variety of formats, including traditional, structured data that you would find in a database, as well as unstructured data such as text documents, email, video and audio. The volume, velocity and variety of data are increasing, and organizations large and small have been challenged to manage inconsistent data flows and process complex data effectively.


Data analytics is the science of examining data to draw conclusions that enable the organization to achieve business goals. Sophisticated technology is used to extract, categorize and analyze data related to business operations, customer behavior, purchasing patterns and other factors. By applying various qualitative and quantitative techniques, data can be used to make more informed decisions that drive competitive advantages. Organizations can maximize operational efficiency, identify trends and growth opportunities, enhance and develop new products, and improve the customer experience.

Thanks to the emergence of big data and the ability to use data analytics to create business value, data-driven decision making is becoming imperative for SMBs. Traditional analytics and data reporting methods are no longer adequate. Sophisticated technology, constant Internet connectivity and mobility allow leaders to make decisions based on current data, not historical data. They can rely more on fact and less on instinct. No longer a “nice to have,” big data is becoming an essential strategic business asset. Research has shown that data-driven insights allow organizations to outperform competitors and increase revenue, market value and profitability.


SMBs looking to leverage big data need to document a detailed strategy. Get a handle on the kind of data being created and the sources of that data. Identify what problems you want data to solve and what challenges you want data to help you overcome. Then determine what kind of data is most likely to help you achieve those goals. Evaluate and trial various technological solutions, and consider the pros and cons of on-premises and cloud-based tools. Of course, make sure the tools you choose have security features that are capable of protecting your data.


Big data is capable of making small companies more successful. Data analytics tools that were once designed for highly trained analysts can now be used by virtually any business professional. Let ICG show you how to use big data to make better decisions and develop game-changing competitive advantages.