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Stijn Viaene2

4 steps to unlock Big Data for SMEs

New guidelines from Vlerick Business School highlight four steps SMEs need to take to unlock the full potential of Big Data.

Professor Stijn Viaene, data analytics expert, says that Big Data presents significant opportunities for smaller businesses and SMEs should not be reluctant to using it. However, they are often put off by the costs and complexity of analysing it. The four steps SMEs need to take are:

1. Asses your needs

Launch at least one experiment to assess what Big Data can offer your company. You can entrust a third-party company with your data. If you think of outsourcing your data you should have a look at magazines like DataNews or CxO magazine. But always make a phone call too; a first-hand recommendation is always the best route.

2. Use Big Data to complement your decision-making processes

Big Data is helpful for both operational and tactical decisions. Having a large amount of data allows you to test assumptions against the available information and create scenarios. A good example is using Google Analytics for commercial websites to optimise customer loyalty.

3. Be ready for innovation

Using big data will change your decision-making process so be prepared to innovate. Look at Big Data as a long term learning experience rather than a short term-investment. Added value cannot be achieved without changing the culture of your company. Develop a culture where data-driven decision-making is the norm, not the exception.

4. Be clear on privacy issues

Aim to build a relationship of trust with your stakeholders. To do that, they need to feel that you use their data to their advantage and that you process it ethically. Make sure you highlight this in your branding strategy as it will allow you to gain even more trust from your stakeholders.

Prof Stijn says: ‘’ 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.’’

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