Why These Three Small and Medium Businesses Turned to the Cloud to Improve Their Operations
At this stage of our digital evolution, businesses of all sizes recognize data as the currency of the future. Collecting data sets for visualizations and data analytics can help businesses optimize their performance and anticipate and react to change. But for small and medium businesses (SMBs), building a data framework can be daunting. It can be challenging to make data “analytics-ready,” requiring a considerable investment of time, resources, and technical knowledge. With data in multiple formats and locations, costs quickly add up and expertise becomes a limiting factor. As a result, two-thirds of SMBs say they are unable to analyze all the data they collect.
The ability to collect data sets and run data analytics is no longer the exclusive domain of large enterprises, however. The cloud has leveled the playing field for SMBs by providing access to integrated analytics tools that eliminate the cost and complexity of running big data platforms. SMBs are increasingly recognizing the cloud’s potential to help them capture, store, and analyze data. In 2021, the cloud was the top IT priority for companies with fewer than 1,000 employees.
A robust analytics architecture helps you make timely, informed decisions, improve efficiencies, and uncover opportunities. But you don’t need a small army of experts to gain insights into your customers, operations, and competitors. Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers solutions that are designed to simplify your digital transformation and help you collect, consolidate, and clean your data so you can start identifying patterns and predicting outcomes to get ahead of the competition.
1. Drive efficiency with modern data architecture
Organizations running on-premises data stores or self-managing in the cloud have substantial overhead for database provisioning, patching, configuration, and backups. According to the market intelligence firm IDC, companies that subscribe to cloud services save an average of 31 percent compared to running data center infrastructure themselves.
The AWS Cloud offers numerous avenues for automation, as well as managed services that remove the heavy lifting of infrastructure management—without extra costs. Or you can choose to work with a partner experienced in building data frameworks.
Lion Parcel, a subsidiary of the Lion Group in Indonesia, experimented with building a data lake on premises, but reporting times were slow due to system bottlenecks. The company began working with an AWS Partner Network consultant to assist with the design and implementation of a data pipeline in the cloud and saw vast improvements. A delivery report spanning six months of data, for example, took 15 minutes to run on premises; the report takes less than a minute on AWS.
One of the benefits of the cloud is the ability to get started right away, with no investment in hardware or licensing costs. Within six weeks of starting discussions with AWS and its partner, Lion Parcel had its data pipeline up and running. “Implementation of the data pipeline was actually faster than expected, and we’re able to do more than we initially envisioned,” says Probosetyo Krishna, head of information technology at Lion Parcel. After establishing its pipeline, the company dove into building machine-learning models for the first time, to segment its customer base.
2. Unify data and make better business decisions
Data siloes present another issue that plagues businesses on an analytics journey. Using old or incomplete data can translate to missing big opportunities. But the accumulation of data in multiple formats and locations makes it difficult for decision-makers to get a 360-degree view of operations.
Short of better options, many businesses rely on spreadsheets, disconnected databases, and subjective reasoning when formulating marketing and production strategies. A report by the market research company Forrester states that only 50 percent of business decisions are made using data versus gut feeling or opinion. A modern data architecture, on the other hand, allows you to connect your data into a coherent and cohesive whole with secure, governed access. On AWS, you can move data seamlessly between purpose-built services and a data lake.
The analytics team at Eko, an India-based financial services business, was faced with complexity of Eko’s dataset which had rapidly accumulated over time and was spread across multiple legacy databases. The time required to retrieve data more than two months old could take at least 10 minutes or more. Additionally, each time project teams needed historical information from one year ago or longer, they had to submit a request to the IT team and wait for hours or even days for a response.
The team decided to build a data lake on the AWS Cloud that offered a unified view into diverse data sources. The company now uses Amazon EMR for big data processing and AWS Glue to prepare and load data for analysis. Amazon Athena is at the core of its analytics pipeline and is used to run serverless queries from data stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).
Today, Eko retrieves data faster than ever by running its analytics platform on AWS. For example, a query on customer retention rate that used to take 20 minutes now takes just 3.8 seconds, giving Eko a much better visibility into its business health and daily cash flow.
3. Run analytics quickly and easily
Once you have a data pipeline in place, it’s time to start making sense of all your data. On the AWS Cloud, you can easily synthesize diverse internal and external data sources into actionable information. User-friendly dashboards can be created on the fly, even by non-technical staff members. Internal reporting and queries are simplified with a mature set of analytics tools optimized for performance and cost.
Openpay Group Ltd. is a fast-growing Australian fintech company that provides “buy now, pay later” loans to customers in four countries. The business was extracting data from 13 different systems for reporting and turned to AWS to help consolidate and build a global data platform that could be accessed around the clock and complied with local data protection laws.
Openpay established a data lake for raw data capacity and a data warehouse to store information in structured formats for analysis. Capabilities have soared as a result, and employee satisfaction has also risen. “Analysts no longer have to work overtime to run reports, so they feel more productive and efficient during their workdays,” says Baher Maher, data engineering team lead at Openpay.
In addition, the company has gained a better understanding of how its customers behave globally and in each specific region. Data analysts can build reports based on specific countries or demographics in 30 minutes instead of several hours, assured that the data is accurate and up to date. Average query times have also decreased from 30 minutes to 20 seconds.
Boost competitiveness while cutting costs
SMBs using AWS data services benefit from accessible, actionable, and affordable insights that make them competitive. The AWS Cloud infrastructure is built for analytics, from loading data from multiple sources to monitoring data flows, setting up partitions, turning on encryption, reorganizing data into columnar format, and granting secure access. An IDC study that sampled AWS customers found that, on average, customers reduced the total cost of operations by 48 percent and slashed the time to run queries by 79 percent.
Migrating data to the cloud gives SMBs the ability to leverage data the same way large organizations do. Capturing, storing, and analyzing all of your data at scale is more achievable, more affordable, and more effective than ever. With AWS, you don’t need to make a huge investment of time and resources in order to collect and analyze data. And you can ramp up and scale quickly and securely, getting business users access to the insights they need to make more informed decisions.
If you’re just getting started and simply need to identify where your data is, how to access it, and how to share it, the cloud is the quickest way to get up and running and provides a path to more advanced solutions.
Contact us today for a free and fast assessment of your options, or learn more on how your SMB can gain insights. You can also download our eBook, React Faster and Anticipate Change: Uncover New Insights with Your Data in the Cloud.