Big Data, Small Business Opportunity

Big data is a big opportunity, and one that is being explored in both consumer and enterprise markets – whether that’s the progression of ‘cool’ technology for the everyday person or a door to growth in the world of business. While there’s a lot of information available in the public domain around big data, most focuses on its application in massive corporations with the financial power to fully exploit it.

Where does that leave smaller businesses that strive for success and growth within competitive Asian markets? Although success would certainly depend upon the business and their ability to seize the opportunity, big data isn’t just for big business. Big data is one area of modern technological advancement that can be utilized regardless of size.

Social is King

Across Asia and indeed the world, social media is used by the masses and proves to be one of the largest contributors to the ever increasing amount of data we now have to handle, manage, store and analyze. For example, in Malaysia, the average person spends 69% of their online time on social media, micro blogs and blogging. This creates a huge opportunity to listen to direct feedback from consumers and target them accordingly. The hurdle that SMBs face is how to tap into this data and then how best to apply this knowledge operationally to their business.

Asia-Pacific is witnessing the fastest growth of big data services compared to the rest of the world. IDC projects a five-year 46.8 per cent CAGR(compound annual growth rate) from US$258.5 million in 2011 to US$1.76 billion in 2016. Small to medium-sized businesses can take a substantial slice of this projected growth with some of the services that are being made available by local governments and enterprises alike

Countries across Asia are already supporting SMBs as they consider how best to use big data. For example, Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) is calling for collaboration with businesses that can make social analytics services available to SMBs.

With one and a half billion people worldwide actively using social media, with three million Facebook users in Singapore, many types of business can benefit from the information that is circulated and captured on social media including those in retail, food and beverages. They can utilize aspects such as demographics, trends and ‘listening’ to what consumers are saying, staying at the forefront of a constantly changing market.

Using big data insights to your advantage

Eddie Toh solving-big-data-problems-infographic_640.jpg

The opportunities to use big data to your advantage is huge, and can take much of the guess work out of how to best market products and services. With Governments and organizations such as Singapore’s IDA, tapping into big data is the easy part– the challenge then becomes how to use the information that comes out the other side.

The main issue is that SMBs don’t know what data they would need in order to grow their business, and with the abundance of data available, they need to know what key questions to ask themselves.

Social analytics is the examination of trends, topics of discussion and online habits of social network users. By listening to what is being said, the gaps and white spaces in different markets can be seen, as well as areas that can be further developed or responded to, which means businesses can meet consumer demand. This can allow SMBs to build a brand with the right audience, market their services effectively, handle customer
complaints and queries to maximum potential.  By accessing data on customer habits, chatter and demographics on a particular market, SMBs can mould their offering to match market demands and shape the future of their business by being more adaptable, reacting and engaging with the right people.

Massive leaps are being made across Asia to ensure big data benefits are accessible for small businesses. With this abundance of information, the issue to SMBs should not be accessing it, but recognizing the opportunities and developing the right questions and right requirements, for the industry in which they operate in. To get moving, SMBs firstly need to look at their current operations and peg down where they want to be in the market. Once this is established, all that is needed is some solid and direct questions to consumers that will guide them in the right direction – the direction of growth.

*stats taken from the IDA website

**Full infographic image available at