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It is clear that the small and medium business (SMB) retail sector is a huge segment with almost 15,000 companies and wholesale at about 16,000 companies ($50mm-$250mm).

I am curious as to opinions about selling analytics projects(i.e., requirements, data modeling, ETL, coding, statistical modeling, insight presentations/reports) to the SMB market.

I don't mean to imply that these folks have been "flying blind" in their business intelligence but continuing to rely on Excel and Access to move to the next level of BI is probably insufficient.

This would appear to be an underexploited niche for an advanced analytics boutique consulting practice. The big players (e.g., MS, Oracle, SAP, SAS) certainly recognize the opportunities and we have been reading about attempts to address the SMB need.

Realistically, though, how could the ROI justify a lot of attention by the big players to this market ?
Would these SMB needs be better addressed by small consulting shops who could charge significanly lower fees along with utilizing existing processes and code ?
Ultimately, this relationship could evolve from a dependency to facilitating a learning curve for in-house competency.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Tags: Advanced Analytics, Consulting, SMB, Small and Medium Size Business

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Also, what about selling data to small or medium size companies? For instance, web site scores, where score is a predictor of fraud / malware, and the database consists of 200,000 publisher domains.

In my opinion, at $200-$500/month, it might be easier to sell to small rather than larger companies.
I agree with you completely. It's difficult to justify the investment cost to SMB when you're dealing with consulting fees, hardware, and software licensing fees. One way to reduce at least one of those expenses is to look at the open source alternatives.

I recently authored an article for Open Source Business Review which surveys the current OS business intelligence offerings. Have a look. They may not be as fancy (feature rich) as some of the more well known solutions, but at least there are BI options available for anyone who has the time to pursuit them.
Small businesses are horribly underserved in this market. The thing is, it wouldn’t be hard to offer them some basic analytics. Most of them are using off the shelf accounting systems that have structured data storage and good SDKs. It wouldn’t be horrifically hard to write add-ins for the major accounting systems (Intuit, Great Plains, etc.) to provide basic inventory demand forecasting and things like that. Make it easy, make it cheap, and you could make a lot of money.

On the idea of selling analytics consulting… Tough sell. Even if you have an SMB that actually wants some analytical help, I think they would often times have a hard time cost justifying it.
Frank Capek has this very interesting take on something that we end up doing everyday-waiting! In fact today “waiting” has become multi channel-you wait in physical queues and you also wait on the IVR for the call centre agent.

Here is what Frank says: It’s hard to overestimate the impact of waiting on your customers’ experience. Across the research we’ve conducted, some of the most dramatic customer defections occur because of bad waiting experiences.You can help customers “lose wait” two ways:
1) reduce the actual waiting time and
2) design a better waiting experience;
one that is more pleasurable or at least less frustrating.

To read the complete article visit our retail analytics blog.
Hi Steve, I agree with your estimation & prediction on busines opportunities through SMB & promising days to come.It is a proven ROI for any companies because they have invested on collection,restoration,retrieval of Data still confined with Past & Present & unable to predict. there the innovation & oportunities lies.If you cauld be any of your assistance please let us know.

Yes, you are absolutely right in the sense that as long as analytics is not a required core competency of the organization, then those needs are best met by external suppliers who specialize in the area as business practitioners of analytics and data mining.


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