Big data, big opportunity for SMEs

Big data is changing the landscape of industries in New Zealand one sector at a time – and a new tool is changing the game in the childcare sector. 

Using a combination of data sets, mapped across New Zealand, you can now compare suburb by suburb across the country the saturation of early childcare centres, how many children those centres are licensed for, the median age and population of children aged between zero and four years.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Once a tool strictly for high street, insight like this using big data is now trickling down to small and medium businesses making use of the opportunities it presents. Use has increased as volumes grow exponentially – the global capacity to keep information doubles every 40 months and since 2012, over two exabytes of data are generated every day.

Data helps businesses identify what their point of difference should be. Increasingly there is opportunity and benefit not only in harnessing data but understanding how to use it to your advantage.

" There is opportunity and benefit not only in harnessing data but understanding how to use it to your advantage." Briar McCormack

In New Zealand, businesses of all sizes are ramping up their commitment to big data. According to the most-recent Alleasing Equipment Demand Index, 13.4 per cent of all businesses plan to invest in big data, artificial intelligence or drone technology, up from 10.2 per cent in the previous corresponding period and 7.9 per cent in the March quarter.

For many small businesses the adoption of big data could be about survival – a report from MYOB earlier in 2017 showed 44 per cent of local business operators believe their industry will change significantly due to the effects of technology in the next 10 years.

Wassem Alsabiry, a network planning analyst at ANZ NZ, has been using these tools and datasets for a number of years to support the company’s network of branches and ATMs – as well as its small business customers.  

He says big data can be a competitive advantage for companies who know how to use it.

“What we can offer to customers through insights has taken a landmark step,” Alsabiry says.”[Yet] we’ve just scratched the surface of what is possible and I can’t wait to extend this across more industries.”

Data sets

The childcare mapping tool from ANZ will show where primary schools are, indicate household income, public transport routes and numbers of working professionals in an area.

“You can now look at what attributes might be attractive in certain areas from the perspective of a growing early childcare sector,” ANZ Insight Manager Max Newton told a recent business breakfast for the early childhood sector.

“So if you want to acquire a centre or set one up we can provide some data mapping to help you make a more informed decision.”

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

As well as reducing the cost of doing intelligent business, Newton says, it also puts services in places where they’re most needed.

The data was pulled form a number of public sources including Census 2013, NZ.Stat population projections, education counts from early childcare statistics and

Know your competition

Dr Darius Singh, director of Chrysalis Group which has four childcare centres across Auckland and Tauranga, says big data helps small businesses like his get a better grasp of their competition.   

“There is all this information out there,” he said at the event. “You have got to know your competition, know who else is out there and where it is saturated. How else do you do a business plan?”

“Then go and talk to the community, figure out what is missing,” he said. “See if that is in your philosophy for how you want to do childcare.  If it matches up you just do it, simple as that.”


Not content with his work in childcare, Alsabiry says he hoped to use similar data to support the medical, retail and hospitality sectors.

“After that, we are looking at what we can do with weather, soil and contour data in the agri context,” he said. 

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Max Newton explains ANZ’s geo-spatial data mapping tool.

Dr Singh said the ANZ mapping tool is something he wishes he’d had access to seven years ago when he and wife Nikeeta Singh were looking to open their first centre.

“We had this thing called the Yellow Pages, and I looked up every childcare centre address.  Google maps hadn’t done their street detail yet, so I used the Wises maps you could buy from the service station, and with a red marker I just dotted all the childcare centres.”

“So I had a nice big arial, very flash I thought at the time.  I wish I had the map though, it would have saved months and months of my time.”

Briar McCormack is a contributor at bluenotes 

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

editor's picks

06 Sep 2017

Data, mining & data mining

Aaron Ross & Jonathan Bloch | Global Head of REI & Head of Strategic Banking, REI, ANZ

The Australian resources sector is slowly moving toward its inevitable big-data future – but must move quicker.

22 Aug 2017

Data and the key to success

Andrew Cornell | Past Managing Editor, bluenotes

How businesses actually use their data – rather than accrue it – will determine their success in the modern marketplace.

07 Sep 2017

Unlocking the growth potential of Australia’s medium-sized businesses

Tania Motton | ANZ General Manager, Business Banking Australia

Australia’s medium-sized businesses are shrinking in number but their potential is enormous.

23 Aug 2017

Does size matter when it comes to culture?

Andrew Cornell | Past Managing Editor, bluenotes

Banks face challenges in communication and culture – and earnings - which come simply from being too big and complex.