Can SMEs Capture the Benefits of Big Data?

Accounts Payable and Finance

Finding the right person with the skills to serve as data aggregator is difficult and expensive. So what’s a small to medium size business to do?

If you look up the definition of Big Data, you’ll find this: data sets, typically consisting of billions or trillions of records that are so vast and complex that they require new and powerful computational resources to process. The challenges to optimizing big data include analysis, capture, curation, search, sharing, transfer, visualization, and information privacy. There’s also the growing challenge of finding people with the right skillsets to know what to look for in these huge bits of information and how to use that data to grow the enterprise.

Who is that person, and what skillsets does he or she have to possess? Imagine a CIO/CMO hybrid, someone who can know where to look and what to look for when it comes to big data. This is the description of the data aggregator. An Experian survey defined the goal of the data aggregator (or chief data officer) as an “evangelist for data within the business;” to help “dictate the governance, management, and security of information.” But people with these skills and talents are, at this point, difficult to find and command big salaries. That can be challenging for a small or medium size business’ bottom line.

How much big data do these smaller companies really need? Could they simply do better analytics with the data they already have? Or is it the “lure and mystique” of big data that makes it so attractive to businesses of all sizes. The reality is that once you bring in both structured and unstructured data, you need someone on staff with the appropriate data science skills and those talents can demand and receive big salaries; salaries that may put these people out of the salary range for many SMEs.

So do SMEs just give up the search? It’s a competitive world, and the ability to properly utilize as much data as possible will give an SME a competitive advantage. So although the talent is pricy, I believe it’s worth it. I take the side of marketing people who say “yes, you can” turn big data into sales. Companies that can’t afford a full-bore leap into big data should still have a data expert in-house and marry that with basic BI tools.

The CIO may not have the skills needed to analyze the data, and it’s unlikely that the CMO will possess those skills either. You need a person who’s a mix of tech and business sense; as I said earlier…a hybrid. The right person needs to be able to: (1) think backwards from a hypothesis made from the data, and (2) have the vision to see what the gobs of data the company has gathered can lead to in terms of growth.

Mike Rowbotham

About Mike Rowbotham

Mike Rowbotham is Vice President of Strategy & Innovation for AmeriQuest Business Services. He is responsible for establishing the company’s overall strategic direction, which includes identifying inorganic growth opportunities. He also drives organic growth through product innovation and market expansion. Previously, Mike developed leading-edge network and infrastructure systems of AmeriQuest and its subsidiary companies to successfully accommodate AmeriQuest’s high-growth strategy.

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