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Embracing big data for your business

Utilising big data could make a big difference. Adel Aneiba, Research Lead for the Cyber Physical Systems research group at Birmingham City University (BCU), explains how collecting data can give your business a competitive advantage.
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Embracing big data for your business

Utilising big data could make a big difference. Adel Aneiba, Research Lead for the Cyber Physical Systems research group at Birmingham City University (BCU), explains how collecting data can give your business a competitive advantage.
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Photo of Adel Aneiba, Research Lead for the Cyber Physical Systems research group at Birmingham City University (BCU)

Big data fusion = big advantage

The way businesses grow is changing.

Across the globe, there is a rise in smart cities – a city that uses information and communication technologies to increase efficiency, share large volumes of urban data and improve the quality of services.

Birmingham is waking up to this, but has your business?

In recent times, 83 per cent of global businesses have implemented the use of data in order to seize a competitive advantage.

Furthermore, 79 percent of global enterprise executives agree that companies that don’t embrace big data will lose their competitive position.

Cities around the world are taking advantage of new technologies, such as 5G and LPWAN, in order to obtain and record large volumes of data.

This will help local authorities to combat congestion and emissions, as well as – of course – providing businesses with invaluable information that can help them secure long-term growth and identify new customers.

Utilising data for business

Of course, this is all well and good for global companies, but what about closer to home?

If you’re running a small-to-medium-enterprise (SME) in the West Midlands, collecting data seems like an impossible premise.

Indeed, small businesses, local councillors and many other types of organisations have expressed disappointment in the past about big data.

Firstly, they have previously had to outsource to private companies in order to obtain data. This does not come cheap.

Secondly, the data has been known to arrive in an array of contrasting formats that takes considerable time, effort and – again – money to integrate and decipher.

This is something that myself and my colleagues in BCU’s Digital Media Technology lab have been determined to change.

Together, we have spent the past few years working on a number of exciting projects. We are collaborating with local companies to provide key data that is understandable, beneficial and totally free of charge.

Working with local businesses

One of our most successful projects is Birmingham In Real Time (BiRT), which is ran by my colleague Alan Dolhasz.

We teamed up with both Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Combined Authorities in order to offer a one-stop shop for collecting data from different sources.

BiRT allows SMEs and businesses the chance to plan for the future more effectively. We do this by analysing and assessing data over certain periods to establish trends and growth.

Furthermore, we can add different plug-ins to tailor to a business’ specific needs.

We also sit down with the business in question, running them through the data and ensuring they understand how to utilise its potential.

Another project we are currently developing is called CityGate.

It is an IoT urban data platform that collects data in real time about important matters for the city.

This includes air quality, traffic and congestions, giving businesses the opportunity to assess information and predict change.

A full case study has been conducted using the CityGate platform.

There are even opportunities to utilise data collected on quieter and up-and-coming areas of Birmingham, as businesses can look to capitalise on this by purchasing land, among other opportunities.

CityGate offers an end-to-end system.

It is able to not only acquire and gather data through sensors, but can also then analyse it through a backend system. It then provides users with the results, enabling them to successfully implement it into their plans.

The importance of data for business

More and more emphasis is being placed on using modern technology. Birmingham is incorporating sensors, IoT and more, and it won’t be long until it becomes a fully-fledged smart city.

Whether you’re a sole trader, a small SME or a larger business, now really is the time to start thinking about IoT, big data fusion and analytics, as well as other tech that can improve your organisation.

You might think it’s too difficult to decipher. That it’s too time consuming. That you haven’t got the money to fund something so extravagant. Not so.

You can use data to understand when people are buying and at what times, build a profile of their behaviours, learn how to interact with your customers and much more.

You will learn why people buy from your business, as well as what they purchase.

This may be even handier in the current climate, as more and more businesses fully embrace remote working.

If you want to create a long-term strategy that can really improve your business, it’s time to shake off any concerns you have about big data processing and management  – the difference it could make to your company could be great.


Interested in finding out more? You can further innovate your business through one of our research and development partnerships.

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