3 Big Data Predictions for Small Business in 2012: Why predictive analytics will empower businesses of all sizes in 2012


Ed Lucente is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at AT&T. You can find more blog content from Ed and other experts on emerging technologies on the AT&T Networking Exchange Blog. AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.


There’s plenty of talk about the benefits of business analytics — the analysis of “Big Data” to spot insightful trends, patterns, or correlations — for large enterprises in industry sectors like financial services, healthcare, and retail (see examples of analytics applications below). I’m surprised, though, that little attention has been given to the potential value that big data analytics can unleash for small businesses as well.


Since small businesses are typically more resource-constrained than larger businesses — due to smaller IT budgets, fewer IT professionals, or limited cash — wouldn’t small businesses stand to gain the most if they had economical and convenient analytical capabilities to improve their understanding of customer buying habits and preferences or supply chain constraints. After all, small businesses are much more nimble than large enterprises and would be able to modify their business models and practices more quickly.

In 2012, I’m betting that three drivers will accelerate the adoption of business analytics applications by small businesses:

1)    Continued adoption of cloud deployments from trusted service providers;

2)    Innovative analytics cloud appliances;

3)    Lower entry prices for a wide variety of business analytics solutions.

Even more, as they adopt business analytics solutions via the cloud (http://www.business.att.com/enterprise/Family/hosting-services/cloud/), small businesses may take their greatest leap ahead ever in operational efficiencies, customer satisfaction, and competitiveness.

Defining Big Data

What’s Big Data? According to Wikipedia, Big Data:

are data sets that grow so large that they become awkward to work with using on-hand database management tools. Difficulties include capture, storage, search, sharing, analytics, and visualizing. This trend continues because of the benefits of working with larger and larger data sets allowing analysts to spot business trends, prevent diseases, and combat crime. Though a moving target, current limits are on the order of terabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes of data.

Frank Moss, former director of the MIT Media Lab, describes Big Data in more specific terms:

Computers, smart phones, GPS devices, embedded microprocessors, sensors —– all connected by the mobile Internet —– are forming a ‘societal nervous system’ that is generating a cloud of data about people that is growing at an exponential rate. Every time we perform a search, tweet, send an email, post a blog, comment on one, use a cell phone, shop online, update our profile on a social networking site, use a credit card, or even go to the gym, we leave behind a mountain of data, a digital footprint, that provides a treasure trove of information about our lifestyles, financial activities, health habits, social interactions, and much more.

Big Data Predictions for 2012

IDC just released their predictions for 2012 and among them is that Big Data will be the next big thing after mobile:

Big Data will join mobile and cloud as the next “must have” competency as the volume of digital content grows to 2.7ZB (1ZB = 1 billion terabytes) in 2012, up 48% from 2011, rocketing toward 8ZB by 2015. There will be lots of Big Data–driven mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity.


IDC forecasts that the global market for analytics applications will grow from $25.5 billion in 2010 to $34 billion in 2014 (http://ow.ly/83HsX), and many IT companies are pursuing business analytics solutions.

Analytics Cloud Appliances Uncover Business Problems

Applications in business analytics have the power to formulate pattern recognitions such that trends can be identified and acted upon from huge sets of public or private data. Analytics cloud appliances integrate business analytics software with hardware to uncover correlations or patterns of behavior never before imagined, such as consumer buying trends in clothing stores or the probability of success for particular hospital procedures. Analytics cloud appliances can be tailored to specific industry applications as well. Perhaps most important, business analytics applications provide approximate solutions to business problems that cannot be solved “exactly.” This helps business leaders to re-think best practices and to transform their business models in order to meet changing market demands.

Big Data Applications

SAS Software, a business analytics player, sponsored a white paper outlining common applications where problems can be resolved through big data analysis (below).

Industry Analytics Applications
Financial Services Credit scoring, fraud detection, pricing, program trading, claims analysis, underwriting, customer profitability
Retail Promotions, replenishment, shelf management, demand forecasting, inventory replenishment, price and merchandizing optimization
Manufacturing Supply chain optimization, demand forecasting, inventory replenishment, warranty analysis, product customization, new product development
Healthcare Drug interaction, preliminary diagnosis, disease management
Energy Trading, supply, demand forecasting, compliance, Smart Grid
Government Fraud detection, case management, crime prevention, revenue optimization



Business analytics applications are valuable tools that can help businesses of all sizes make faster, smarter decisions to ensure innovative business models. They help spotlight clever ways to improve business processes and serve customers better — ahead of the competition.

We’d like to hear from you. For example, do you think small businesses will embrace Big Data in 2012 given today’s broadband capacity, availability, and expense? For a wider discussion regarding big data and bandwidth, please refer to Matt Prigge’s article in InfoWorld.com. We look forward to your comments (below).