Mid-Sized Firms Gear up for Big Data

What are the top three key business growth drivers for business leaders of medium-sized businesses?

A recent study on European Business leaders, commissioned by Ricoh, reveals just one in five medium-sized business leaders chose Big Data as a driver when asked to rank the technology-led activities that are having the biggest positive impact on business growth. However, further insight shows that the top three key business growth drivers for business leaders of medium-sized businesses are in fact data related - first is optimising business critical processes, followed by digitising hard copy documents, and  making the transition to cloud computing. So albeit under a different name, it is clear that medium-sized businesses are gearing up to capitalise on the increased benefits of better data management.

We often hear medium-sized business owners comment that their data is not vast enough to be classified as Big Data - that it’s an area for larger organisations to worry about.  So, while some don’t connect with the Big Data term and may not share the same number of terabytes as their peers in larger organisations, they are not overlooking the growth of their unstructured data, which is believed to be outpacing the growth in structured data three to one

The reality is they are already taking steps to manage it and many are in a strong position to do so. The Ricoh-sponsored research also shows that the majority of CIOs in medium-sized businesses are more empowered today to change data business intelligence processes (61%) and customer engagement processes (52%), than the CIOs of large businesses, where 55% are empowered to change data business intelligence processes and 46% customer engagement processes.

The majority of medium-sized businesses have already realized the importance of analyzing data with studies such as the SMB Group Report ‘2012 SMB Routes to Market Study’, which shows that 57% of medium businesses have already purchased or upgraded a business intelligence/analytics solution in the past 24 months, and 49% plan to do so in the next 12 months. 

There are obvious indicators that the race has begun for medium-sized businesses to benefit from Big Data.  But how can business leaders ensure that they gain return on investment and remain at the front of the race?  Success will depend on the route taken to change the traditional ways of working, optimise data analytics and enhance customer communications.

A study by Techaisle of 3,360 businesses shows that ‘the highest success rate of big data implementation was achieved when an external consultant or organisation was brought in to develop proof of concept, advice on database architecture and ultimately develop the big data analytics solution.’ 

Such findings correspond with our experiences.  Medium-sized businesses are less likely to have a dedicated data analyst. The responsibility lies within the remit of an employee who is still trying to catch up with the fast rate of development of new tools and techniques for data analytics, and they must achieve it on top of a number of other important business activities. 

Take a look at one of our clients, bonprix, a German fashion retailer (member of the German Otto group).  Barthel Roitzsch, Head of Sales, bonprix said, “The personalisation of our catalogue covers and the relevant customer communication has led to a significant increase in response rates and to increased awareness for our products”. Our work with them resulted in truly individualised catalogues (personalised catalogue covers), based on data analytics and customer profiling.

Whether business leaders continue with their external partner or decide the benefits gained now justify an internal data analyst, the process must keep evolving to ensure the business continues to focus beyond simply gathering data to analyse and act on the insights.   This is the only way businesses can actually develop newer insights into the impacts of operations and learn more about their customers as they continue to engage with the businesses products and services. Thus, leading to impactful end results which can see businesses dramatically transform their customer relationships, increase sales, pursue more efficient operations and improve customer service.



Benoit Chatelard, General Manager Solutions, Ricoh Europe PLC