Data is the essential fuel for businesses in the age of connected devices, online engagement and the Internet of Things. For small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), from start up to mid-market player, it’s essential to be able to gather and analyse data on everything from customer habits to major news events, market fluctuations and social media events. An in-depth data gathering and management programme is essential to help give SMEs the edge over their competitors and help them make the difficult jump up to the next level of profitability. The more insight a company can extract from the ever-larger pool of data available to it, the more effective its sales, customer relations and business development programmes will be. Or, put more simply, the better your insights, the more accurate your decision-making will be.
However, many SMEs are faced with a chicken-and-egg problem when attempting to develop this sort of comprehensive data strategy. The tools required to make successful data management an achievable prospect often require an up-front capital investment, which a lot of companies are simply not in a position to meet. As such, many SMEs are finding that their ability to implement powerful data strategies, which could help generate greater amounts of business and thus end the deadlock, is stalled at the first hurdle. They are trapped in a vicious cycle.
Op-ex subscription models with no upfront cost provide a more manageable way in for some, but there is still the problem of longevity to consider. Say, for example, a tech start-up is looking to execute a major expansion project, and wants to use data analytics to assess which of its sales leads to target and which of its customers are likely to accept an up-sell. While it may be viable to engage a cloud-based data analytics tool for the duration of the project, if the company encounters cash-flow problems during the engagement period, then the tool may have to be dropped. Similarly, if the company experiences a rapid growth period the organisation needs to quickly and cost effectively scale on the same platform with the ability to flex in the future if the demand then reduces. Both of these scenarios are a distinct possibility for companies which live from month-to-month.
In a fast-moving environment, SMEs need maximum flexibility if they are to react to fluctuations in the market. Indeed, a recent Gartner report predicted that global expenditure on IT services would rise by around $28 billion to $940 billion in 2016, driven primarily by buyers’ increasing acceptance of the cloud purchasing model. In-cloud tools are on the rise, and SMEs need to lead the charge in adoption if they are to grow and thrive.
One way to help achieve this and overcome the cash flow problem is a by-the-hour op-ex model, enabled in-cloud.