Big data has been a buzz word for quite some time now. In fact it could have been the word of the year by oxford dictionary. And even though not many really understand what it is and whether or others are using it already or not, the term manages to echo in most of the board rooms.
You will read many articles on big data and giant moguls talking about the advent of big data, but seldom do you read about anyone from SMEs (Small and Medium enterprises) industry talking about the new ‘it’ or ‘IT’.
In India, SMEs contribute about 45-50 % total exports and spans across a range of industries from food industry, textiles to services. 90% of the Industrial Units in India belong to the SME sector. The contribution of the SME sector to the entire output of the country is 40%. The SSI (Small scale industries) sector in India alone contributes 7% to India’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
What is unique to SMEs is the benefits and challenges associated to it. The major benefits are employment (45% of total employment), large reach with India being largely a rural country, steady rise of entrepreneurship and less capital extensive nature. The challenges mainly are marketing, scalability, technology, information, budget, resources, accessibility, skilled manpower all these that render SMEs dwarfism in front of global established giants. More insights can be found at SMEs_Indian Economy.
So now the big question is that whether SMEs really need the Big Data or not.
One side of argument:
Specialists argue that SMEs need a repository of data, but it doesn’t have to be really large in volume and that CRM (Customer Relationship Management), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), Cloud Telephony, will do enough for SMEs. Google analytics and other such tools available online can help them make sense of business performance on not so big data that is generally required by SMEs as compared to large organizations.
The other side of argument:
A group of specialists argue that SMEs do after all require Big Data and can make use of cloud technology to compete global giants by not overlooking important areas trends that may be identified out of the big data and help target the right market, expand business and stay relevant.
Analytics-as-a-service model for cloud based big data analytics for SMEs can do wonders. Cloud technology can help store big data in a very cost effective way. It will not only help in better administration by reducing manpower and level of monitoring but also move from batch data to real time data within organization. Predictive analytics would help them with business strategies, and make them agile and shock resistant.
In UK, the government wants to put half of all new IT spending through small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across all areas of purchasing, by 2015 to break the oligopoly of major system integrators that dominate IT. Earlier, 80% of central government IT work was undertaken by just 18 large suppliers. The traditional large IT suppliers are also being strongly encouraged to use more SMEs as subcontractors in their work (UK SMEs ). Such government projects and initiatives should also be undertaken in IT sector in India.
They will also be able to make use of social media and SEO in India where internet users are ever increasing with 137 million (11% of total Indian population) online and second largest population on facebook in the world. This can enable SMEs which have to expand the realms of traditional marketing.
There is no gainsaying that not all SMEs in India would require cloud technology and big data after all ‘one size fits all’ approach wouldn’t work. It will vary from industry to industry, company to company on the basis of factors mainly goals and vision, products and services offered, target customers and markets. But the underlying guiding factor is staying relevant in all the spheres of business as globalization today is visible not only globally but persists locally too.