Mid-sized Companies and Big Data

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Can Big Data positively impact revenues for mid-sized and small business data strategies? Last week we asked when the market research community will develop strategies and tactics to define terms for Big Data's use across industries:

As market researchers confront the era of Big Data, it is time to ask key questions about its usability, its potential to affect how they do their work -- and how it impacts the customers who purchase their work. Google, of course, is a major player in the Big Data landscape, but smart business-owners know that accurate, reliable market research tailored to their specific needs requires far more specificity and targeting than the search engine giant can provide.

While large multi-national corporations such as Visa and UnitedHealth have the resources and reach to try several means of using Big Data to inform their business intelligence,  the options are fewer for companies with smaller budgets for obtaining market research.

If you're a wholesaler, for example, what is the surest means of figuring out which pieces of Big Data -- the 'firehose of information' estimated by IBM to consist of 2.5 quintillion bytes of information daily --  best help improve your company’s bottom line?

And how to determine the market research that will most efficiently help you parse Big Data in ways that grow your revenue?

The potential impact of Big Data on wholesalers is considerable, according to Heather Ashton and Simon Ellis, authors of a December 2012 report, "Perspectives: Big Data and Analytics in Wholesale." 

Getting a grip on which aspect of the company will most benefit by using business intellingence derived from Big Data can be challenging. The 'four Vs' of Big Data -- volume, velocity, variety and veracity -- present a complex matrix of variables for mid-sized businesses to contemplate,  particularly for wholesalers that are supply-chain based and which in-take and process large amounts of data through each section of the chain annually. 

A survey of wholesalers revealed that 28.1 percent of respondents indicated that deciding which kind of data is relevant, and what data to store or discard, was their largest challenge in terms of Big Data. This uncertainty provides a glimpse into the strategic and tactical puzzle that many wholesalers face when thinking about if, how, and when to begin a Big Data initiative.

Yet, Ashton and Ellis argue that the opportunities for positive ROI that can be derived by analyzing and acting on Big Data means that mid-sized companies such as regional wholesalers must inevitably  meet the challenge of figuring out how to use the information.

For starters, wholesalers should consider making a chart outlining the respective pieces of the company:

  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution
  • Inventory management
  • Warehouse operations
  • Customer Relations

Conducting an efficiency-review of each division -- testing for product profitability, customer profitability, etc., -- will give company leaders an accurate and broad view of where weaknesses exist.

After reviewing the efficiency-review results, leaders can begin a strategic consideration of where and how a Big Data initiative might be most effective. There are data-base platforms available from companies including Oracle and Teradata designed to tighten operational functions, reduce inefficiencies, and produce cost-savings for wholesalers.  These third-parties specialize in 'crunching' Big Data within the wholesaler's business matrix -- once the proper location for improvements have been identified.

Ultimately, as investigations by our business intelligence analysts shows,  mid and small business' data strategies face more daunting challenges in relation to Big Data than multi-national corporations, including the difficult first step of recognizing where the amazing new information can best help. 

The process of making the necessary determinations, then locating the platform to analyze and maximize Big Data, followed by the all-important question of whether such an initiative is affordable, represent a uniquely 21st Century challenge for mid-sized and small businesses. Until an easily scaleable means of wrestling Big Data down emerges, experts suggest that mid-sized companies dive in now on learning how to use it sooner rather than later.

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Amy Alexander
Writer/Sr. Content Manager

Topics: Market Research Strategy Big Data Industry Insights