19 Feb SMEs: Looking Forward
SMEs: Looking to Big Data, Artificial & Collective Intelligence
Big data, artificial and collective intelligence are major trends across the world, even for smaller companies. With mushrooming data volumes being generated by all sorts of sensors and devices on the one hand and computer power and special analysis software and intelligent agents becoming increasingly affordable and powerful on the other, companies need to find ways to extract knowledge from today’s wealth of Big Data, and we SMEs must not fall into the trap of thinking that this is yet another trend that only the big players can exploit because that is far from the truth.
SMEs must “team up” with each other AND we must reach out to universities too, just like the big companies do. This may well be the time to inject new life into the Co-Operative business model (see below).
If small and medium-sized enterprises join forces, get universities involved and share, for example, computer power and data with other companies in a structured and systematic manner, they could profit from this collaboration by receiving a better and larger data pool and superior data intelligence. Naturally this would have to be within the framework of data protection laws.
Similar to crowdsourcing mechanisms, this enriched data pool would enable companies to better understand how customers behave, what they need and what to offer them. It would also provide a view for future business investment in a way never before available to us.
SMEs: Looking to the Co-Operative Business Model
There are nearly 7,000 independent co-operatives across the UK, working in all parts of the economy. Together they contribute more than £34.1 billion to the British economy (in other words, the size of the British Defense budget). As businesses owned and run by their members, co-operatives offer a solution to the growing sense of powerlessness people in society feel over business and the economy. Co-operatives give a degree of control of the businesses they are closest to either as a worker, or consumer but in the digital age they could something more. They could give people more control over data that is about them, that affects them and that could benefit their local communities.
Here in the Netherlands eleven of the biggest companies are co-operatives. Imaging that for a moment……they do not have to pay shareholders, they do not dance to the tune of pension fund managers or sovereign wealth funds. In a co-operative, Labour hires Capital – capital becomes merely another resource that the business requires to produce its services or products. The aims of the business are to produce excellent goods and services, to provide good terms and conditions for employees, to be fair to suppliers, to provide limited returns on investment for investors (who are invariably the very people who work for the co-operative or who the co-operative serves), to support local communities and to respect the environment.
Now imagine what big data delivered along with artificial & collective intelligence could do for this business model?
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