Big data: not on the radar enough at Dutch SMEs

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Over six in ten SMEs in the Netherlands say that big data is not relevant for their own company’s operations. At small enterprises – employing between 10 and 20 people – this percentage is a hefty 75 per cent while about half of companies employing between 20 and 250 people believe big data is irrelevant.

Majority of SMEs feel big data to be irrelevant to their own business

This is the outcome of a study of 614 small and medium-sized enterprises by Kantar TNO, commissioned by ABN AMRO. Size is a key factor: the larger the company, the more it will flag big data as adding value. Some 48 per cent of small companies see little added value in big data, with this figure at 21 per cent for companies employing between 50 and 250. ABN AMRO reckons it is lack of priority, knowledge or information about big data that keeps SMEs from getting on in this area. 

  • Larger companies set greater store by big data 
  • Only 14 per cent of SMEs expect revenue growth from big data 
  • Experimenting from own business operations adds value

SMEs divided on big data’s contribution to revenue growth

A mere 14 per cent of SMEs expect big data to become a major contributor to revenue growth, while more than four in ten think it won’t make any contribution. Although they currently see little relevance and value in big data, SMEs do think it will gain in importance going forward. Just over half of small companies expect to start using big data in the next three to five years. Once again, size would appear to matter, as 43 per cent of companies employing between 20 and 250 people are predicting a timeframe of between one and two years. Marketing and sales processes, in particular, might benefit from the use of big data, SMEs reckon.

Starting small helps overcome initial reluctance

ABN AMRO believes that SMEs not using big data right now are missing opportunities. “SMEs’ key strength is their flexibility, and big data can help in making quick decisions. Data analysis offers better insight into customer behaviour for SMEs, helps to make production processes more efficient and potentially creates opportunities similar to those for larger companies,” observes Nora Neuteboom, an ABN AMRO economist. “For many SMEs, it’s hard to conceptualise the opportunities offered by big data. To break the impasse, they could start experimenting by using GDPR guidelines to find out what type of data a company generates and what type of data might be valuable, and so familiarise themselves with big data in small steps. Another good option would be to forge alliances. This, too, could help SMEs start off on a small scale by talking to big data specialists and experts through industry groups or other network associations. Particularly in the early stages it’s important for SMEs to gain experience close to their own business activities – that makes it easy to understand and transparent.”

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