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Thursday, August 08, 2013

Cloud, Data, Analytics and Process for SMB

Brought to my attention,  In The Financial Express, from Jyothi Satyanathan, director Mid-market & Inside Sales, IBM India/South Asia.  I much agree with his opening statement:

" ... Small and mid-size businesses (SMB) are some of the fastest adopters of IT, as they clearly see the immediate benefits in growing their business and becoming more efficient. IT solutions providers recognise the opportunity in the market to accommodate SMBs in a big way among customers. Today the world is experiencing another sweeping change—powered by big data analytics, mobile, social and cloud. These foundational technology shifts are inspiring forward-thinking leaders from smaller businesses to drive change in how decisions are made, redesign how their teams work, and reassess how to serve the individual consumer. ... " 

He goes on to say that big data and analytical techniques are now available to Small and Medium sized Businesses (SMB).   Yes, this is revolutionary.  The Cloud allows the use of these technologies for any sized business.  Adding a strong flexibility capability.   In the past SMB's could not spend what was needed to buy the servers, license the software, and deliver the results to its people.   Now they can also pay for only what they need. The maintenance and security can be outsourced.  All of these capabilities are there, at a bargain.

A good example:  In a recent project we were asked to deliver analytical methods to tablet based systems.  The Small business was not ready to license multiple seats for visualzation software, or the analyical packages needed to test their efficiency ideas.  But the use of R, a free open source system that readily links to databases, Big Data and other platforms, could be readily be used to test out ideas, and then migrate these ideas to their core systems.

He goes on to discuss the key element of efficiency and some good examples:   " ... the use of cloud technologies is enhancing efficiency manifold as it enables the placing of marketing assets such as digital files of campaigns, videos in the cloud so that all involved parties can create, modify, use and share as needed. Marketing data on the cloud makes it easier for marketing staff to access information anytime and anywhere on the field. ... " 

And ultimately the use of Big Data.  Here I think there is need for some caution.  Start with small and less complex data.  Place your data in a 'sandbox' to test new ideas.  Find some real wins you know you can make happen.   Determine what kind of data you need, have or can acquire.  Make sure you really understand the business decisions being improved ...   Make sure the small scale experiments you complete provide real value, and then scale up.   Along the way,  set up the architecture to repeat this, and then do repeat it!    I agree there is a big contribution potential for Big Data here, as he says:

" ... The major contribution cloud makes to the SMBs ecosystem is big data analytics. Like larger enterprises, SMBs stand to gain from understanding the importance of big data. Big data can arm small businesses with insights and capabilities by analysing data surrounding their business, creating new ways to operate more efficiently, find new customers and more importantly improve bottom-line results. ... "

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

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