Aussie small businesses waking up to big data: SAS

Big data is not just an issue that large organisations like Facebook and Google have to deal with, according to SAS Chief Technology Strategist James Foster.
Written by Spandas Lui, Contributor

There is a misconception, particularly in Australia, that big data is a problem that only plagues large enterprises, but SMBs are just as susceptible to big data woes, according to SAS Chief Technology Strategist James Foster.

SAS has been involved in the business analytics software space for over 30 years, and has been pushing customers toward adopting high performance analytics technology as a more efficient way of handling big data.

While the software vendor works with a range of customers globally and locally, Foster noticed that many Australian organisations were not particularly concerned with big data or high performance analytics.

"People get fixated on the volume of big data and associating it with the likes of Ebay, Facebook, Google, or Bank of America, because of the massive amounts of transactions they make," he told ZDNet. "Organisations in Australia have always said 'we're not that big, we're small', since we only have about 20 million potential customers — that's the whole population."

But Australia has one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world, and we are voracious users of social media, which is creating a vast wave of unstructured data, Foster said.

"The same organisations that have said 'we're not that big' have been sitting on 10 years of customer feedback forms," he said. "If they look beyond how much data they have in their data warehouses to how much information is now available, they start to recognise that big data is a big problem."

Indeed, SAS has seen this happen in the last 12-18 months, as interest in big data cascade down from large organisations, such as government agencies, telcos, and financial services firms, to smaller ones.

"Particularly, because of social media and unstructured data, a lot of organisations are starting to realise it's their problem too, not just an issue for huge organisations," Foster said. "All the challenges around big data are still challenges of medium and smaller organisations, and I think they're starting to realise that data analytics is not as complicated as it once was.

"It's becoming less of a technology conversation, and more about driving business values."

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