Big Data – Only for Big Players?

Foto: iStockphoto
Foto: iStockphoto

Think Big Data is only something for big companies? Think again. Small organizations in particular can benefit from this phenomenon, as well. Just as their larger counterparts chew through petabytes of information, small businesses and midsize companies can learn much from their own terabytes.

The pressure faced by IT departments and the business side of operations, is strikingly similar for firms both large and small. According to a study by Aberdeen, more than half of all companies are not gaining access to important information quickly enough, with 45 percent citing data format difficulties as the reason they fail to leverage their information.

Growing quantities of data

The sheer volume of data at hand is hardly helping, of course. Of the organizations surveyed, 35 percent also bemoaned the fact that their information is simply growing at too rapid a pace. IT infrastructures are falling behind, and without the means to process it, data is becoming useless. No wonder, if you take a look at the statistics: The data collected by the companies in the survey increases by some 40 percent every year – and not just for the big players. In any case, 81 percent of firms with more than U.S.$1 billion in annual revenues have more than five terabytes of information – considered the magic number for Big Data by the analysts at Aberdeen. Meanwhile, more than half (56 percent) of small businesses and midsize companies have also crossed this minimum threshold. Even when one observes smaller businesses with less than U.S.$50 million in annual revenues, just under a third (29 percent) still qualify as dealing with Big Data.

Tackling problems instead of business as usual

This is no reason to bury one’s head in the sand, however: Taking on the challenges involved in long analysis times, rapid data growth, and information silos is a worthwhile endeavor. “The way in which a Big Data program pays off most lies in how it enables you to quickly answer questions about internal business processes, partners, products, and customers,” explains Nathaniel Rowe, research analyst at the Aberdeen Group.

Next page: The benefits of Big Data, by the numbers

In other words, untold treasures often lie buried within these many petabytes of data. The Aberdeen report also explains why unearthing them is worth the effort: Companies that have implemented a Big Data program have gone on to increase their earnings by 12 percent the following year. Their customer bases also grew by an average of 14 percent over the same period.

Truly impressive, however, are the statistics produced through direct comparison. To cite just one, companies with Big Data programs perform 26 percent better than competitors that have not sought answers to the challenges they face. It seems that those who opt for “business as usual” are passing up considerable growth potential. “Big Data provides answers to questions we never thought we would need to ask or be able to address,” says Rowe.

Information, the sooner the better

To see how profound the effect of such investments can be, one need look no further than in-memory solutions. Of the companies surveyed, 51 percent lamented receiving information too late; 47 percent – including firms of varying size – typically need their data in the space of an hour, after which it becomes more or less worthless. Finally, 35 percent went as far as to say that they basically need information in real time.

This is where in-memory technology comes in. Companies that take advantage of this innovation feed three and a half times more data into their analyses on average and receive the corresponding results 107 times faster. That means in 42 seconds instead of 75 minutes, for example. In other words, in-memory solutions deliver precisely what more than one out of every two companies needs: higher-quality insights at much greater speed.

Again, this applies to organizations both large and small, as Aberdeen analyst Rowe affirms: “In light of the growing data volumes we’re seeing, it’s ultimately less a question of if and much more of when small companies will have to face these challenges.”