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Big Data offers huge potential for smaller companies, Intuit says

Thor Olavsrud | Dec. 18, 2012
'Tis the season for prognostications. Staring into the big data crystal ball one thing seems clear: We can expect to see the continuing growth of the Internet; wireless networks; social media; and the number of mobile devices, sensors and other digital technology that is flooding us with new data every minute of every day.

"Data-driven solutions will come to the rescue, helping simplify--and even make--these decisions," the report says. "Over the next five to seven years, emerging technologies and new analytical tools will convert daunting data streams into actionable information that will ease personal decision making, reduce uncertainty and save individuals both time and money."

"These analytical tools will store, organize and analyze life's data feeds for us, aggregating anonymous information from large numbers of people to provide individuals with personalized comparisons and insights," the report adds. "Used on their own or in conjunction with advisors such as accountants, financial planners and health specialists, these data-driven tools will demystify the complexity associated with the business of life."

As early indicators of the trend, the report points to three companies that are already tapping into the new data resource to help consumers:

  • Financial Engines. This firm uses cloud technologies, large financial data sets and advanced data analytics tools to help people navigate the complexities of retirement planning.
  • Exmobaby. This firm creates baby pajamas with built-in biosensors that collect health and wellness data to help parents monitor their babies. The company hopes to aggregate the information into large databases on infant health and wellness.
  • Parchment. This startup analyzes a large database of student profiles, including grade point averages, SAT scores and acceptance data to help students choose and apply for colleges by assessing a student's likelihood of admission to a specific school. It can also determine what a student can do to improve acceptance chances.

"Data empowers consumers," Smith says. "Navigating the maze of modern life is becoming increasingly complex. Data is going to help. Data and the analytical tools that come with it will enable individuals and households to make smarter and more informed decisions."

Big Data Will Help SMBs Know Their Customers

For businesses, Smith believes that digital data will help spark a return to the era when neighborhood merchants knew their customers and could anticipate their needs.

"We believe data is the Moneyball for small business," Smith says, referring to the book by Michael Lewis, recently released as a movie starring Brad Pitt. "It levels the playing field. It'll bring back the days of the local merchant who knew everything about you and was able to greet you by name with special recommendations based on your purchase habits. It's going to help small businesses operate more efficiently and enable local entrepreneurs to compete effectively with a company of any size anywhere around the globe."

Smith says Intuit is in a good position to help make this happen. After all, he says, it provides business and financial management services to small and mid-sized businesses, financial institutions like banks and credit unions, consumers and accounting professionals. About 25 percent of the U.S. economy moves through its products, Smith says, and Intuit users have opted to share that data with the company.


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