The growth of data is changing the operational landscape for businesses of all sizes. Until recently, the advantages of big data have been the domain of big businesses with the staff and infrastructure to capitalize on it.
But now, small and medium businesses (SMBs) and even startups can integrate big data into their operations and take advantage of the same benefits large businesses have. Big data integration can put small businesses on equal footing with their larger competitors and help them differentiate themselves from the crowded market.
Big businesses have long known that big data can increase efficiency, speed up processes, and improve customer interactions. They have been able to harness these benefits because they have IT departments to support and maintain the infrastructure necessary to integrate big data capabilities.
It may appear impossible for smaller companies to absorb the requirements in terms of staff and infrastructure needed to deploy big data processes. But with attention to a few key details, SMBs can harness big data advantages.
Find the Right Price
It goes without saying that smaller businesses are generally more sensitive to the cost of products and solutions. Big data systems can be expensive — sometimes prohibitively so. The higher the price of a product or system, the harder it can be to justify its cost against budgets.
But that doesn’t mean SMBs can’t tap into big data. It is important for companies to examine their current needs and then look for a solution that cost-effectively matches those needs. Finding a solution that can scale as needs scale gives an SMB an affordable entry point that can later grow as the company grows and can afford more robust services.
Aim for Flexibility
Often when big companies transition to a big data solution, it involves overhauling all of their systems. SMBs typically can’t afford the expense and disruption of such a transition.
Instead, SMBs should evaluate which departments or processes would benefit from the introduction of a data gathering system. Then look for a solution that allows for more of a piecemeal deployment approach rather than an entire system overhaul. This type of approach would allow systems that meet the company’s needs to remain in place and work with the new data system where necessary.
Search for Simplicity
Larger companies have the personnel and resources to implement more complex big data systems, but SMBs often don’t have that luxury. SMBs need big data solutions that are relatively simple, easy to deploy, and straightforward to use and maintain.
As the company’s needs evolve following deployment, new applications also should be easy to integrate with minimal disruption to operations.
Because SMBs are less likely to have dedicated staff to implement and provide maintenance, these functions should be simple and not require large demands on personnel in terms of training and ongoing support.
SMBs must take careful steps to make sure the deployment falls within budget and doesn’t involve costly downtime or maintenance. A key first step is to evaluate current needs to determine where a big data system might add value to the company’s operations. Then research the available options, taking care to look for solutions that solve immediate needs without placing costly demands on personnel and resources. Finally, place extra value on solutions that can solve both current and future needs through a scalable architecture.