How SMEs can unlock the potential of big data

Vlerick Business School has just put together some new guidelines for SMEs, on the subject of making the most out of big data.

The international business school, or more specifically Professor Stijn Viaene, a data analytics expert, notes that big data is a huge opportunity that organisations cannot afford to fail to capitalise on – and there are four main steps they can take to ensure they unlock the full potential of crunching large slabs of data.

Step number one is simply to assess your needs, and launch one (if not more) experiments to determine what big data can offer your company. If you're outsourcing your data, the school recommends you look at magazines such as DataNews or CxO, or get a first-hand recommendation from someone you know and trust.

Step two is to actively use big data in your decision making. With a large amount of data at your fingertips, you can test assumptions against available information, and run scenarios to determine the best course of action in your business.

The next piece of advice, step three, is to be ready for innovation. With big data changing your decision making process, in the long-term you need to look to innovate based on that, and not be afraid to change the broader culture of your company to an environment where data-driven decisions are the norm, not the exception.

And finally, step four is that SMEs must know where they stand on privacy issues with big data. Your stakeholders need to trust that you're crunching customer data ethically, and you should highlight this ethical aspect when it comes to your branding strategy.

Professor Stijn Viaene commented: "The time has come for SMEs to consider the use of Big Data. The value of it can be unlocked by using a combination of the ready available technologies such as: mobile, social, database and could technology. You don't need to invest in it yourself and that's precisely what makes Big Data interesting."

"Third parties offer data analysis possibilities via your browser and this is the real revolution: big data analysis at accessible costs. If your SME is IT savvy, you can create your data platform in house. Another popular option is to appoint external data and software as-a-service providers who can also take charge of the data analysis.''

For more on this topic, see: It's time to ask the right questions about big data in your business.