By Henk Olivier, MD of Ozone Information Technology Distribution
Big data, small data, data lakes and data pools. The conversations that have carried data into boardrooms and decision-making sessions and IT departments have all been about how valuable it can be and how much potential it has. They’ve also carried the weight of cost. The technology that has powered the analytics and algorithms capable of siphoning value from this data has not been cheap, nor that accessible to the smaller company. It’s a problem. Particularly when viewed through the lens that, as PwC’s recent research eloquently put, ‘those who take the time to properly diligence and understand the value of their data will unlock significant value’.
The challenge for many small to medium enterprises (SMEs) is that they don’t have access to the tools and technologies that allow them to fully harness the potential of data. As a result, many don’t bother worrying about whether or not their data has value because, well, that’s for the enterprise. Right?
SMEs have never been in a better position to catch hold of that data and make it their own. And they should. In many instances, the data that sits within the SME is even more valuable than that which sits in the enterprise. The latter has different business systems and places where they can store data which allows for more redundancy but for the SME, sometimes all the data is in one system and one place. If there’s a disaster it can bring the company to a complete, and potentially lethal, halt. If there’s a chance that this data can be used to drive business value and growth, it’s right there, ready for the taking.
SMEs can use this data to analyse business trends and see how they can improve internal processes and become more efficient. Many businesses can improve their data usage and systems and use information gleaned from this data to improve business workflows and communication. This is key – use the data to transform internal and external communication that will enhance business growth and potential.
Of course, the question immediately turns to cost. It’s expensive to invest into the bell and whistle data and reporting and business intelligence platform that will help the SME reshape its future. No, not really. The evolution of reporting tools and BI platforms has been absolute. Today, there are far more solutions available and these can be easily customised to fit specific business use cases and budgets. From the as-a-Service model, where solutions can be bought and used as they are needed, to the platforms designed to adapt to need and budget, there are now data-driven offerings that the SME can use to get that value from their data.
In a complex market surrounded by challenging economic issues and the increasingly loud voices of the competition, data has the potential to pull a SME forwards into a sustainable future. It’s an investment, yes, but not one that will make the budget bleed and definitely one that, if implemented intelligently, can yield tangible results and return on that investment.