Big Data

Big Data for SME’s: One Baby Step at a Time

on July 15, 2014

Enjoyed this blog post by Julien Rio, about his recent presentation at The Big Data and Innovation Conference that small and medium enterprises can, in fact, get into the “big data” game. His conceptualization of big data: “collect-analyze-utilize” is pure genius in its simplicity, and the question he asks of presentation participants, “How do I collect data from customers, analyze the data, and drive conclusions to improve my business?” is exactly the kind of question we strive to answer here at Oversight.

His case study included data from Ovolo Hotels, a family-owned business with boutique hotels in Hong Kong and Australia. Definitely the definition of “small to medium” sized enterprise. The case study showed how Ovolo Hotels went for using “relevant” data instead of “big” data, relying on less, more targeted data to drive business decisions. This differs from Oversight’s view on benchmarking, given that we feel the more users enlist the aid of third party analytics the better the benchmarking and opportunities for insight will be, but that’s not the point. The point of the case study is HUGE: that Big Data is available for SMEs.  

Julien Rio is making a great point here- that big data is available for use by everyone, but SME’s would do better to take a more targeted approach at first before “diving in head first.” What matters is that organizations focus exclusively on the data they can use. Instead of spending all your energy and money collecting data that isn’t useful, focus on what you need.

His suggesting, that by starting small, eventually those organizations will move toward more and more data, and finally, slowly reach the "big" data, is spot on. Additionally, those organizations will also be better at knowing how to leverage the data when they arrive at that point. The best example of this is Rio’s example of HSBC, about how after seven years he received promotional offers in Chinese, despite being from the U.S. The moral of the story is: you might be a huge international company with tons of data and not be able to use any of it efficiently.  

Although Ovolo Hotels is leveraging data from resources different than what we use here at Oversight (social media and customer service surveys for example,) I was happy to see that they’d used the data to create better, more targeted marketing campaigns, and make changes to their business that truly delight their customers, which is critical in the hospitality industry. It’s a completely different sector than T&E and company spending, but our customers consistently use our Insights On Demand™ product to shape policy, influence employee-spending behavior, and make better business decisions.

And to Rio’s final point: companies just getting started with leveraging big data and analytics shouldn’t be ashamed to have limited data, or let this notion keep them from getting started with analyzing hard data in the first place. In the end, all that matters is how you use the data you have in front of you to make a difference. It is much better than trying to get by without data and analysis at all. 

Patrick Taylor

Patrick Taylor is an authority in the convergence of business analytics, information security, and the implementation of technology to boost organizational performance. An innovator in his field, Patrick founded Oversight Systems in 2003 and served as President and CEO for 15 years. In this role, he helped hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies improve financial, accounting, and auditing processes. Previously, Patrick held leadership positions with Oracle, Symantec, and Internet Security Systems (ISS). Patrick has a bachelor’s degree Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

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