Sunday, April 10, 2016

Small and medium-size companies: any chance to grow in the Big Data dominated environment ?

Today I watched a video presenting European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016.
For those who are not familiar with the subject, it is about a test of self-driving trucks across Europe. The test was organized by the Dutch government. Main truck companies from Europe participated in running the event. You can watch the video here here and here.
It is a really great proof-of-concept project driven by the Big Data technologies.

However, in this note I don't like to write about details of the project. Instead, I would like to develop wider my first reflections after watching the video. I think everyone's conclusion will be that with this event all smaller transportation enterprises have got a Big problem. The problem can be verbalize by a question:
how to survive on the market dominated by big transportation players and their self-driving trucks across Europe ?
In the big transport companies the drivers will be replaced by the lawyers, but what about smaller transport businesses ?

Of course the problem is not only related to the transport industry. Similar situation appears in each branch of commerce. Therefore, the more general question, is:
how smaller enterprises can find themselves in the business environment dominated by the Big Data technologies governed by big parties ?
It is a bit similar to the competition between members inside a social group:
how to survive in a group dominated by set of rules profitable mainly for those who created those regulations.
Each of us can find clear example of such an environment from his own experience.

In my opinion, a possible solution of the problem can be found in a grouping of small companies into a fair-shared societies glued by common goals and business activity. Such a group has a bigger chance of survival than a single member, especially if all members can coordinate all individual actions, in such a way that only these processes which are profitable for the group and for the participant should be realized. It may sound like a socialism utopia - so it may mean - forget it, not possible for realization.

However, I am more and more convinced that such a procedure of business activity is possible if all human emotional behavior can be removed from a decision making processes. Remember, we are talking about methods to lead business in a most effective way. Such a decision creator can be realized by a Big Data driven decision making system using machine learning algorithms . If we have a group of a few enterprises and each company makes available his business data (like details of contacts, details of realized tasks and preferences, etc. ) for the decision-making system, a proper Big Data framework can create suggestions how to move forward using well established probabilities.
A client can look for a doer by communications with a group accessing the representative portal providing specification of task(s), or asking directly a chosen company.
In opposite, each group member can act fully autonomously, looking for customers individually or can use a group representative hints created by the decision-making system. In both cases the group representative framework acts as a Data driven decision creator:
  1. for customer: suggesting proper companies from the group
  2. for companies in the group: informing chosen entities about requested tasks.
The structure of the group reminds a bit the franchise business model. In contrary to a franchiser a group member don't have to follow any business concept and there is no need for any kind of standardizations in terms of provided services. The only payment which have to be provided by the group participants is a cost of the service and the development of a proper "Big Data"/Machine Learning infrastructure.

Summarizing this short note, the goal of described above business association is creation and support of strategies for sustainable growth of small sized enterprises in a Big Data dominated environment. The common features among all participating parties in the group should be community of the type of business activity and goals.

Unfortunately, details are usually much mode complicated, but my intention was to sketch a general picture of a structure with (in my opinion) a highest chance to become profitable in the Big Data business era.

I will appreciate any comment and opinion about the idea sketched above.

Bogdan Lobodzinski
Data Analytics For All Consulting Service

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