There’s a lingering perception that Big Data is the exclusive domain of big companies with enormous datasets in need of mining—and the budget to pay for analysts, programmers, and all sorts of nifty tools.
Yet smaller firms also have a need for data analytics—not only to crunch their customer and business data, but also gain insights from social networks and the broader Web.
Smaller firms present a big opportunity for IT vendors, provided the latter can design tools capable of storing and analyzing data on a budget. SAP is taking steps in that direction with SAP Business One, a business-management platform for small and midsize businesses that relies on the company’s HANA in-memory technology. The application offers embedded analytics and (thanks to HANA) the ability to conduct high-volume transactions.
Business One also offers a single dashboard, which is presumably a bonus for smaller companies with a bare minimum of people to actually operate the software. But SAP’s move isn’t all that surprising: a few years back, with much of the globe still muddling through the aftermath of a recession and corporations cutting back on their spending, it began targeting smaller businesses as potential customers for its other software platforms. This expansion into that market with HANA, therefore, is just an extension of both its “primary” and Big Data strategies.
Built to reduce latency and infrastructure associated with data analysis, HANA has become an integral part of SAP’s product portfolio, appearing in everything from its CRM software to its cloud offerings to Business Suite, its flagship ERP offering.
But SAP could face some significant competition as it seeks to become synonymous with in-memory computing. Microsoft, for example, recently announced its “Hekaton” project, which will layer in-memory technology into its next major SQL Server release. And IBM and Oracle—not exactly middling rivals—are also intent on challenging SAP’s technology with various business-related platforms of their own, many of which store and analyze data in a granular fashion.
Many of these rivals also have their collective eye on the small-to-midsize market. So while SAP’s most recent move is logical, it won’t be uncontested.