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SMEs urged to embrace Big Data Analytics as springboard for growth

KUALA LUMPUR: Over the past few years, Big Data Analytics (BDA) has come to the fore of businesses globally. Uptake in big corporations has spawned success stories, among them, accurate targeted marketing based on BDA results, as well as timely product portfolio development based on market trends.

Yet, indications from global market research firm IDC indicates that, for too long, BDA has been viewed too heavily as only relevant to large corporations. Its Asean research director Jun Fwu Chin feels that BDA could be the tool that helps Malaysian SMEs compete more effectively against bigger enterprises.

“We are seeing a comprehensive shift in the way technologies are used today. Take for example the field of banking and finance. Once the domain of global banks such as Standard Chartered and HSBC, banking today faces challenges from players who are not traditionally from the same industry. Examples of this are already clear, such as in the case of Alipay,” said Chin today at a media briefing hosted by SAP Malaysia.

Hence, Chin suggests that what SMEs should be looking at are alternative ways to enter markets that are dominated by traditional giants. As long as massive e-tailers (companies which sell goods and services online) are pouring billions into fulfilment networks that span everything from logistics to technology, there’s no logic in trying to muscle in on the same deal. “Big Data is often cited as the future of business, but it’s how businesses use it that will dictate their success. This is where smaller players can make a difference in a world dominated by multi-billion companies such as Amazon and Alibaba,” said Chin.

Meanwhile, SAP Malaysia managing director Terrence Yong said that many local SMEs still have misconceptions when it comes to BDA. “What we are seeing in the Malaysian SME field today is that almost one hundred per cent of them collect data in some form or another. Yet the issue is that most of them simply collect it and have no idea of what to do with it,” said Yong. Yong believes that in principle, SMEs should realise that the application is simple: “As these companies collate data from their customers, all they need to do is make use of the right tools for them to convert data to actionable objectives.”

Staying relevant to business needs, SAP has, as usual, taken steps to ensure their industry leadership is unassailable by developing BDA tools that are specifically designed, packaged, and priced for SMEs. SAP head of analytics and insight (Southeast Asia) Kathleen Muller emphasised that these tools are intended to meet specific market demands with considerations of both privacy and cost to SMEs.

“SAP has made these tools available on the Cloud platform, which enables us to drastically reduce the cost of ownership to benefit SMEs. This helps them to ease their minds in terms of equipment acquisition and maintenance, while at the same time allowing them to retain ownership and storage of their private data,” said Muller. Yong added that while large companies may be able to afford data analysts of their own to crunch numbers, many SMEs aren’t in that position.

“Nor would we want them to have to,” he added. At the end of the day, Yong feels that all that SMEs should have to do is focus on their core businesses. “The tools to help them solve the BDA puzzle are already available. Focus on what you do best, focus on your customers, and let us help you to meet the needs of the customer of the future,” said Yong. IDC certainly agrees with the future of BDA given their predictions in their Futurescape 2016 report.

According to IDC, spending on Cloud-based BDA technology will grow 4.5 times faster than spending for on-premises solutions within the next few years leading up to 2020.

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