Big Data for SME?

Whenever we think about big data, we instinctively think about big company such as Google, Amazon and so on. These companies are equipped with the resources and capabilities to acquire real time data on the go. Tons of data are being collected via different means including computer networks, social media profiles, web browsing histories, mobile phone sensors, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, etc. In fact, if you own a voice enabled devices from Amazon or Google, then Amazon and Google are probably listening to your voice recording.

The five model of big data consists of these 5 elements: Velocity, Volume, Value, Variety, , and Veracity1. In order to utilize the potential of big data, you have to get enough volume, a large sample of data set to accurately analyze its implications. However, it is more important to have the right data than a bigger data, quality over quantity. There are vast amount of data (volume) being generated on Facebook in real time, but most of the data are probably useless for you and I. But with proper data mining and extraction, its could provide insight for your marketing campaign. Cambridge Analytica did exactly that.

Alexander Nix, the currently suspended CEO of Cambridge Analytica, speaks at a 2016 event in New York City. Nix and his firm are accused of misusing the personal data of 50 million people as part of their political consulting work, which included President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Cambridge Analytica developed a survey to profile its users on traits like openness, extroversion and agreeableness — aspects of the typical “big five” personality traits. Combined with the data mined from 87 millions accounts from Facebook, they crafted the perfect targeted ads to help Trump won the election.

So how do small medium enterprise (SME) use big data to optimize their business or marketing campaign? The first plan would be to decide the kind of data that is useful (value) to solve your problem, and then decide the method of harvesting that data. A Japanese sushi chain in Japan employed an IC chip system that allows analysis of customer’s favourite sushi. With time, it was able to generate 4 billion data from their customers appetite. This allow them to properly plan their supply chain and ingredient to reduce wastage.

However, most SME in Singapore does not utilize the full potential of big data. What other way do you think big data could be used to benefit the SME in Singapore, hawker for example? As most SME in Singapore might not have the capabilities to generate the amount of big volume for big data analysis, how important do you think volume is compared to the other Vs?


Laney, D. (2001, February 6). 3-D data management: Controlling data volume, velocity and variety. Application Delivery Strategies by META Group Inc. Retrieved from

4 thoughts on “Big Data for SME?

  1. I feel that SMEs in Singapore might not have the supporting infrastructures they need to capitalise on big data, perhaps social media analytics is a much more preferred alternative because of it’s low-cost and capabilities to match the uses of big data. The scale at which they operate might be too small to consider big data and the costs associated to implement such technologies. As such it only makes financial sense to not implement it, unless the company has sufficient capital and financial reserves.

    of course, I can’t speak for all businesses but I feel that more small businesses are more concerned with the day to day operations that implementing big data as it could seem too far a goal for them to achieve.

    Also please leave a comment on my latest blog post:



    1. Do you think social media is useful for SME to collect their big data? Or it is not worth the try since most SME lack the scalability, and their profit will eventually face bottleneck or so.


  2. An interesting example of using the Japanese restaurant using IC chip system to collect a massive 4 billion data from its customers! I feel that Volume is important but in terms of SMEs such as Hawker, might not as feasible. As compared to big data, SMEs might consider utilizing social media analytics as it is easier for them to implement. Maybe after using social media analytics to predict future trends, the business might expand and then, they could utilize Big Data?


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