Business Analytics for Midsize Businesses

As this growing list of definitions for big data attests, big data evangelist and IBM thought leader James Kobielus rightfully warns that big data is in danger of definitional overkill.  But most midsize business owners are less concerned about defining big data as they are about, as Laurie McCabe recently blogged, determining whether big data is relevant for their business.

“The fact of the matter is, big is a relative term,” McCabe explained, “relative to the amount of information that your organization needs to sift through to find the insights you need to operate the business more proactively and profitably.”

McCabe also noted that this is not just a problem for big businesses, since getting better insights from the data you already have is a challenge for businesses of all sizes.  Midsize businesses “may not be dealing with terabytes of data,” McCabe explained, “but many are finding that tools that used to suffice—such as Excel spreadsheets—fall short even when it comes to analyzing internal transactional databases.”  McCabe also provided recommendations for how midsize businesses can put big data to work.

The recent IBM study The Case for Business Analytics in Midsize Firms lists big data as one of the trends making a compelling case for the growing importance of business analytics for midsize businesses.  The study also noted that important functional data continues to live in departmental spreadsheets, and state-of-the-art business analytics solutions are needed to make it easy to pull all that data, along with data from other sources, together in a meaningful way.  Despite the common misconception that such solutions are too expensive for midsize businesses, solutions are now available that can deliver analytics capabilities to help overcome big data challenges without requiring a big upfront investment in hardware or software.

Phil Simon, author of Too Big to Ignore: The Business Case for Big Data, recently blogged about reporting versus analytics, explaining the essence of analytics is it goes beyond the what and where provided by reporting, and tries to explain the why.

Big data isn’t the only reason why analytics is becoming more of a necessity.  But with the barriers to what it costs and where it can be deployed becoming easier to overcome, business analytics is becoming more commonplace in midsize businesses.

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