SMEs should invest in data analytics because it is worth the risk and helps them to analyze the market, determine price fluctuations and keep tabs on their marketing campaigns
By Catherine Kuria
Jim Gray viewed data science as the ‘fourth paradigm’ of science. He also asserted that everything about science is changing because of the impact of information technology and data deluge. The Harvard Business Review on the other hand says data science is one of the best jobs in the 21st century. Data science is often used as a glamourized term for statistics hence becoming diluted beyond usefulness.
Nowadays, many universities offer a data science degree. To its discredit however, many data analytics projects fail to deliver desired results due to varying factors. In the recent years, the world has been swooning over technological evolutions such as home automation and artificial intelligence. Despite these technologies proving to be a catalyst for growth, entrepreneurs are concentrating most of their investments on data analytics.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have often felt left behind by the growing acceptance of data analytics fearing that their workforce and customer base is too small to justify the expense. This concern may seem farfetched but it’s quite justifiable logically speaking. Investing monetary and physical assets to a project that may go south in the end is a huge risk that many are not willing to take.
A lot of things in life are anything but predictable. However, the cost of implementing and maintaining technology is quite predictable. Data analytics offers a stunning opportunity for growth of SMEs. Miss Esther Philips, the Project Manager, Mu-Data Analytics Institute says: “It’s perfectly fine if your company doesn’t use analytics. But the time to embrace it is now. Investing in data analytics is a financial undertaking but it can save money in the long run.”
A group of African data scientists living in the diaspora recently completed a training workshop for SMEs on data science and analytics in Kenya. The group from Mu-Data Analytics Institute, Germany in partnership with Mount Kenya University held the training in Nairobi and Nyeri. The 6 day training left the participants ready to take on the entrepreneurial world.
Why and how can SMEs take advantage of Data Analytics?
Small and medium enterprises are always under constant pressure to play in the same league with the big organizations. Big organizations are well established and equipped with resources to afford technological infrastructure. However, SMEs are faced with the challenge revolving around the lack of resources. Data analytics might be their saving grace. Through this, an organization can keep tabs on the competition. Google music and Spotify are very popular platforms for streaming music. They use data to predict and recommend a song that a user might like. Ever the competitive, Apple saw this and purchased Beats Music, a music streaming platform. This just indicates that Apple keeps a close eye on the competition.
SMEs should watch the competitor’s usage of data analytics as well. It is important to assess this information to keep the competitive edge. This helps to identify whether the strategy used works or not in order to know whether to copy the strategy or avoid it. Data analytics aids organizations in avoiding risks and becoming more productive.
Customers want highly intelligent and personalized products which should complement their daily needs. Facebook and Twitter are using the data of their users by analyzing their posts, comments, likes and interactions to custom their sites in line with the needs of users. SMEs may not have the resources to customize their products to suit their users’ needs, but they can learn and begin to slowly implement these strategies.
Though marketing might seem like a more creative branch of business, successful marketing requires a commitment to data. Some marketing campaigns may flop and data scientists can pull apart the numbers to understand what went wrong and what might work next time. Entrepreneurs rely on marketing to reach an audience but one needs to understand the concept of data in order to survive the cut throat competition.
Good customer service is what keeps the business alive. The only way to discern whether your customer service is making an impact is by analyzing the data. Skilled data scientists pull apart trends to understand how certain customer service trends are impacting the business stability. Data scientists also develop models that can monitor malicious activities or impending attacks on the business. The key to detecting unusual behaviour within or around the business premise is entrenched in the field of cybersecurity.
Success can only be realized if a project is fully maximized. By clearly defining the objectives especially regarding customer satisfaction, SMEs can make the most out of data analytics. This can be achieved by learning about all the sources of data and consolidating all the sources in one place.
Reports should be analyzed by experts in order to have a clear understanding. Data should be used in a way that benefits the entire organization to reap maximum benefit. SMEs should make use of an integrated platform using the cloud services to get data anywhere. Having the right manpower that is armed with knowledge can help incorporate self-services into the process.
It is important to understand that not every strategy is successfully implemented. If an organization fails to implement a certain strategy to its truest potential, then failure is inevitable. The right approach is necessary when using data analytics. The future of data analytics is quite bright and very promising. SMEs should grab this opportunity to keep pace with the heightened competition in the market. The good news is that it is possible to reap benefits of data analytics without having a huge budget.