SMEs struggling to find 'killer' big data applications

But many small enterprises are interested in possible benefits, says Qlik VP

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SMEs struggling to find 'killer' big data applications Farmer: Big data is about complexity and the scale of the data
By  Tom Paye Published  April 5, 2015

While expressing interest in big data, the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) market has yet to find many killer applications capitalising on the trend, according to Donald Farmer, vice president of innovation and design at Qlik.

Speaking to ITP.net, Farmer said that SMEs are spending a lot of time discussing big data platforms, but not about real applications. Indeed, he explained that many are still searching for the killer big data application that could help their business.

"Whenever I talk to somebody about it, the two scenarios that come up all the time are understanding social media and the Internet of Things (IoT) - and how to best use data from devices and analyse events," he said.

"Those are the two scenarios that SMEs seem to want to explore with big data."

Farmer said that SMEs are right to want to explore big data, simply by virtue of the fact that many SMEs create huge volumes of data - even more than some large-scale enterprises. Indeed, he claimed that the amount and complexity of the data that organisations have is largely unrelated to the size of the company.

"A small company with five or six people based in Singapore, with an online business that operates 24/7, and doing business in five countries in Southeast Asia, may generate a massive volume of complex data that would have only been generated by an oil company or an international bank five years ago," he explained.

"That's a tremendous challenge. Big data is about complexity and the scale of the data - it is completely unrelated to the complexity or the scale of the business."

Farmer went on to explain that SMEs are beginning to see the benefits that big data applications can bring when it comes to making sense of these large, complex data sets. However, he also pointed out that SMEs could look at big data applications more closely to find more, less-obvious benefits.

"They understand the benefits of social media analysis and they understand the benefits of mining machine data. But they might not understand some of the more complex benefits," he said.

"For example, being able to integrate customers' information across all your systems and the ability to integrate that with external data as well - that's something that enterprises are doing that small businesses aren't."

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