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Data Integration: Variety and Velocity for the SMB

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Everyone seems to be talking about big data, analytics and data in general these days. And as we have been saying for some time having a data integration strategy that looks critically at data and data usage is key when looking at your business. With this in mind we invited Guy Pearce, managing partner at REData Performance Consulting to enlighten us about the importance of data variety and data velocity for SMBs. biz resized 600

As a competitive SMB owner, you are well aware of the value the disciplined leverage of your data resources can generate for your business. You’ve probably also heard about Big Data, a paradigm typically the domain of big business, but with some valuable dimensions applicable to any sized business. In terms of the latter, SMBs have some key advantages.

Definitions and Other Background

There are four dimensions to the Gartner’s 2001 definition of Big Data.

1. Scale (data volume)
2. Integrating different types of data (data variety)
3. Managing data that changes rapidly, and that is rapidly consumed (data velocity)
4. Requiring sophisticated data and database technology to handle the complexity of
processing it

Here, points 2 and 3 are as relevant for the larger SMB as they are for big
business.

Now, while the basic process required to competently gather, store, process,
present and leverage basic company data are tried and tested and well
documented, many companies still get it wrong. According to Gartner, it’s
because there’s too much focus on the technology, and too little focus on the
business. Getting it right begins with ensuring that your data is of the right
quality, which is the accountability of the front line staff who are in full
control of ensuring that the data is captured correctly.

Now that you have the data captured, stored and processed in line with your
business strategy, it can be analyzed in a variety of ways for a variety of
purposes. Even selling some of your data becomes viable if you adhere to the relevant legislation and can provide adequate guarantees of the quality of your data to prospective clients. A deeper understanding of the numbers also becomes useful when compiling and presenting a business case for expansion to potential investors.

Big Data for the SMB: Data Variety

One of the greatest benefits of the Big Data paradigm lies in integrating data
from non-traditional sources with your own data to increase its descriptive and
predictive power.

Many SMBs already implicitly use external data. Think the local snow plough
operation marketing their services a week in advance of a forecast of a large
dump of snow. Think the fishing operation consulting the farmer’s almanac
as well as various tidal, wind and current data. Think of the construction SMBs
looking to regional development hubs for growth statistics indicating where
they could best market for their next piece of work. Think of the wealth product
salespersons consulting the census to find areas having the highest incomes and
property values. The trick is to move from implicit information to explicit
information in the interests of increasing the speed-to-action.

In Canada, where about 98% of businesses by volume are SMBs, competition, particularly in retail, is intense. SMBs driving growth and competitiveness should not overlook the relative ease with which their data can be leveraged to help achieve those goals.

Big Data for the SMB: Data Velocity

As an SMB owner, speed-to-action matters. Indeed, the ability to respond quickly
to changing situations is a clear advantage to being an SMB. Even more – being
able to respond quickly can be key to your survival. Lessons in real time
processing from the corporate Big Data arena are as relevant to SMBs. Actually,
the ability to handle real time processing is much easier in an SMB, at a
fraction of the cost.

Conclusion

SMB’s can benefit from the lessons learnt from corporate Big Data
implementations. In particular, they can benefit by multiplying the power of
their internal data by integrating it with relevant external data sources for
competitive advantage. They can also benefit from lessons learned in real time
processing and action. More importantly, they can do all of this with much less
cost and complexity than large businesses.

Want to see more of what Guy has presented. Check out his Slideshare presentation here. Let us know what you think.

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