Getting Smart With Big Data

How smaller companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated about analyzing multiple forms of data.

The end result is that Sub-Zero, a privately held company based in Madison, Wisconsin, with an estimated $700 million in annual sales, competes robustly against multi-billion-dollar giants, whose big legacy systems make it harder for them to exploit their data. “Our investment in this hardware and software continues to pay dividends,” says Scott Lafleur, Sub-Zero’s COO. “We have been able to use these advanced tools to significantly improve the accuracy of our data analysis, which—in turn—allows us to identify improvement opportunities in our design and manufacturing processes.”

According to IBM, the world is awash in quintillion bytes of data—so much that 90 percent of the data that exists today has been created in the past two years. The data comes from everywhere: posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, cell phone records, RFID sensors and GPS signals, to name a few.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can often leapfrog larger rivals in analyzing this torrent of data because they are nimbler and don’t have large, expensive legacy systems. Larger companies also suffer from “siloes,” or different arms of the company that capture different sorts of data about customers or suppliers but are unable to consolidate that data to provide genuine insights. “Our experience tells us that smaller companies are doing a better job of integrating and optimizing cross-channel data, due in part to their ability to be more agile and make quicker decisions than their enterprise counterparts,” concluded a briefing paper by marketing and analytic firm 89 Degrees. The company, based in Boston with less than $50 million in annual sales, uses SAS software to provide services to other companies.

One underlying factor allowing SMEs to analyze data better is the increase in raw computing power, allowing more data to be “crunched” faster. “Not too many years ago, a small business couldn’t access this kind of talent and data-crunching capability in an affordable manner. You had to be a Fortune 500 company,” says Bruce Rogoff, CEO of GroundLink, a New York-based global airport limousine company with more than $30 million in sales. It works with 89 Degrees to analyze its best customers and how to market to them. By combining GroundLink’s own information with databases on credit card use, credit ratings, home location, hobbies and even preferences in pets, 89 Degrees helps GroundLink zero in on marketing that works.

Bruce R


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    We are in a period of rapid change. Customer needs, technologies, competitors and internal capabilities require companies to review and update their strategies for the new realities. In this workshop, strategy experts Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison will show you a systematic approach to strategic planning to help you refine or redefine your business strategy and approach including:

    • Learn what you need to know to develop an effective strategic plan. Put the right players on the strategic planning team.
    • Develop strategies that leverage your company’s unique position in the marketplace. Lift your management team beyond “business as usual” thought processes and activities.
    • Translate your strategies into action. Achieve your vision for success and generate superior financial results.
    • Identify exactly what you need to do now to position your company for future success.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.