Every business benefits from Big Data Analytics (BDA), because of course, every business generates data. Whether it’s a large contact database for a marketing agency, an extensive data set from a nationwide array of IoT enabled temperature sensors, a vast array of credit card transaction logs, or a decade old excel spreadsheet of fridge and toaster sales, big data exists everywhere. But BDA is no longer just the domain of the big corporates—there are already tools out there for SMEs in the IoT game to use.
On the hunt for the competitive edge?
In the SME market, businesses are being squeezed from all angles from the pressure to stay competitive.
From the top down, large enterprises are leveraging economy of scale to give raw value and price the competition into a corner. From the bottom up, sole trader specialists and boutique companies are using their online presence and social media savvy to obfuscate their true size and appear bigger then they really are. From the sides, left and right, SMEs are constantly checking their direct competition to make sure they aren’t getting left behind in whatever the hot topic is at the time!
And with the prevalence of IoT across all sectors supporting ever-improving payment, logistic, and “as-a-service” models, SMEs have every tool at their disposal to stay competitive. In a lot of cases they’re either innovating or imitating best of breed BDA practices enabled by IoT to stay relevant in the marketplace.
How can SMEs benefit from a BDA strategy?
The “Industry 4.0” era is all about how businesses collect, analyse, process, and report on enormous data sets—no matter if that data set was from product sales, transactions details, website interactions, or human resources.
Wherever the data is from, BDA is all about gaining new insights from intersecting disparate data sets at multiple insight vectors and using sophisticated algorithms to spit out some meaningful information to the user and the decision maker.
Some of the benefits to an SME with a command of BDA are:
Improved efficiency: find out where to focus resources and scale back in areas which are flat, declining, or resource-heavy.
Reduced operational costs: With efficiency naturally comes a reduction in costs and spend with unnecessary resources reallocated or removed from the business process.
Validated business decisions: The decision maker, by definition, probably already has an accomplished and respected skill set for making repeatable, accurate, and successful business decisions. BDA will supplement this skill by supporting the decision maker with referenceable data.
Predictive capability and trend identification: Often with BDA, as opposed to human-driven analysis, BDA will aggregate data across multiple sources and find trends that aren’t physically possible to see through a human lens.
Marketing and sales insights: A major benefit to the bottom line of the business, BDA allows marketing and sales strategies to be targeted and focused just in the right area.
Using what you’ve got
Many SMEs may be more “plugged in” and ready for analytics then one thinks.
Generally if a business process is run from a cloud provider such as Microsoft, Google, or Salesforce, that process is ripe for plugging into and integrating with other data and platforms. So in many cases, SMEs already have the data, waiting to be interpreted and crunched!
Platforms like “Watson Analytics” are designed to be a one stop, click and go solution to get meaningful data from the SME business processes. Unstructured data can be taken from multiple sources—from something as simple as a humble sales spreadsheet, to more complex data sets collected enabled by an IoT application. The software then unifies and analyses the data for patterns, suggesting areas of improvement for the business.
For example, solutions like Square, a mobile credit card reader, allow small business to keep an eye on sales, giving rich data on customers such as new versus returning customers, most frequent and most recent visitors, and how much an average customer spends.
Teaming that data with other sources, such as IoT enabled asset tracking, resource and equipment monitoring, employee performance, or even social media, can essentially unify many areas of business, from marketing and sales, to HR and operations, giving a comprehensive picture of a business as a whole.
Analytics in the Channel
So what about the Channel? For the SME Channel partner, BDA is immensely relevant when it comes to IoT connectivity. To focus on a single aspect of the market we could look at CDR’s (Call Data Records). CDR’s are provided by all network operators to their partners, many of whom (such as Pangea) provide similar CDR’s to their customers.
With a CDR, the basic mindset is to process the CDR for billing data, in order to construct a tidy invoice to the end customer. However In many cases CDR’s contain much more information which could provide some real insight to their customers, driving value of the connectivity service (as well as providing a competitive edge over their competitors).
CDR’s can contain a lot of information but some basic elements are:
- Timestamp – the date/time of the call (voice or data)
- CLI – the SIM card in question
- Duration – how long the call lasted for
- Destination – where the call was made to
- Country – in which the call occurred
- Call type – e.g. Data/SMS/voice/CSD
The above is a very abbreviated example, but with just these few items we can already produce a wide range of data and analysis. For example:
Service issue: a lot of short or zero duration calls or data sessions at a certain time (and perhaps in a certain country) could give insight into a service issue in the area;
Upsell opportunity: if a end user is in a particular country and using a non optimal plan there may be an opportunity to upsell
Abuse: many SMS to the same or different destinations, or premium rate numbers, as well as high, unexpected jumps in data usage could indicate an abused or stolen SIM card.
A lot of this is already obvious for a user analysing a CDR directly, but to do it on a repeatable basis or cross reference across multiple providers would not be possible without some BDA assistance.
Hopefully this blog post has been a good introduction into the world of BDA. If you want to get into analytics for your company, learn more about IoT and M2M, or just want to shoot the breeze about analytics, get in touch with Pangea at firstname.lastname@example.org.