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Big Data Pool for Small Firms is 'No Brainer', say Experts

Article date: Thu, 20 Sep 2012 15:44 GMT

Jonathan Bowers, MD

The UK is failing to manage its big data effectively, widening the gap between large and small firms and hindering growth for SMEs.

While corporate heavyweights have the resources to gather their own big data, collections of information already in existence are not being used effectively, putting the country's small businesses at an unnecessary disadvantage.

Tim Langely, cofounder of digital intelligence firm Canddi, said: "Big data is the process of getting sensible intelligence from a lot of data, so really it's big intelligence rather than big data."

Jonathan Bowers, managing director of hosting firm UKFast, explained how this poses a problem for small firms: "Unlike large companies, SMEs simply do not have the amount of data to analyse.

"The kind of data that makes decisions easy for big firms - like choosing colours for your website - is simply out of reach of SMEs. Outsourcing solves the problems associated with having the technology needed to process data, but how do we solve the fact that SMEs don't have that kind of data in the first place?"

A panel of big data experts and business owners discussed how the government could play a role in sharing big data intelligence with small firms.

Damien O'Dwyer, owner of Business Growth Midlands, proposed a solution: "One retailer is similar to another retailer so there's a set of data that can be analysed across several industries, different businesses and scenarios that should be given to small businesses - rather than them being involved in collecting the data themselves because they don't have it."

Manchester University's Dr Goran Newadic said: " is an example of how the government is working towards having this data available but how useful these data sets are is a different question.

"The information here gives a general view on how the financial sector or educational needs are moving but it doesn't give a general idea of how the company operates."

Bowers continued: "Although big data is becoming a buzz word, the value of having data to back up your decisions and help you make the right move is undeniable. Denying SMEs the intelligence that big firms have open access to is only going to hinder rather than help their growth and in turn help our economy.

"The data is clearly out there so why not share this knowledge in one big pool?"

The topic of big data and SMEs was discussed by the panel of experts at a round table event held in Manchester by hosting firm UKFast.

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