Cloud Analytics for SMBs
March 29, 2021
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by Stephen Kanyi

The use of analytics in business has today evolved from just a tech initiative to an imperative. To survive and thrive in an ever-volatile market it has become crucial for businesses to gather data both within and outside the organisation, analyse it and make informed decisions and predictions based on that analysis.

Large organisations, in particular, have been at the forefront of this shift to ‘big data’. Amazon, for instance, has pioneered the use of predictive analytics for what they term as ‘anticipatory package shipping.’ This patented algorithm is essentially a crystal ball that enables Amazon to predict what you will order and ship it closer to you before you do actually place an order. That way shipping time can be cut to just a few hours. 

Big corporations like Amazon have enormous in-house data centres and well-oiled IT departments that allow them to leverage business analytics at this level. For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) however, the costs of setting up such infrastructure are just too prohibitive. 

This is where the cloud comes in.

SMBs in the Cloud

While large corporations may have the edge in terms of in-house computing power and raw talent, SMBs can cover this gap with the cloud. Cloud computing is slowly revolutionising the modern economy as it empowers start-ups and SMBs with the kind of IT infrastructure that was originally a preserve of established enterprises.

In fact, small businesses have been the fastest to adopt the cloud as compared to just a few large enterprises. A report on the global Cloud Computing Market in 2019 estimated the public cloud market, which is dominated by SMBs, to reach around USD 1025.9 Billion by 2026.

The use of cloud analytics, in particular, has also been on the rise. As SMBs are catching up to the reality of the importance of business intelligence in improving operations and performance, the adoption of cloud analytics has skyrocketed. A report by Fortune Business Insights predicts the global cloud analytics market to reach USD 72.4 billion by 2026, up from USD 13.15 billion in 2018.

The exponential growth in both size and number of cloud-based analytic software is perhaps the most significant sign of increasing adoption of cloud analytics by SMBs who make up more than 90% of total subscriptions on public cloud platforms. 

The biggest players in cloud analytics however remain to be established companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and IBM. Microsoft’s Azure Stream Analytics, Amazons AWS analytics and IBM’s IBM Cognos Analytics occupy the 1st to 3rd most popular cloud analytics software on techradar.com. However, like any market, there is always room for disruptors and innovators. Zoho’s Zoho Analytics and Youcloud’s private cloud analytics platform are worthy mentions in this space.

That said, large enterprises who have formerly lagged behind in the adoption of the cloud, are slowly realizing its importance and are acting accordingly. Apple for instance, perhaps the most well-known name when it comes to cutting edge technology, is using the cloud to manage Siri, its popular virtual assistant. Managing questions and answers asked by millions of users can be quite a challenge even for a large company like Apple. This is why they quickly adopted the cloud to help expand and adapt Siri.

Going forward it is clear that cloud analytics usage is going to increase. Thus, the companies that will thrive are those that manage to get the most out of this innovation.

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