Although big data has emerged as one of the key trends for IT personnel in the last few years, there remains a perception that the technology is only really useful for the world's largest companies, which can afford to invest large amounts of resources into gathering and analyzing data.

However, this is no longer the case. It was noted by GfK that the technology is evolving very quickly and this is presenting great opportunities for organizations of all sizes to gain better insight into their operations.

In the past, it was noted by the company that "with their greater ability to absorb implementation costs and more disparate data sources to draw from, [larger] businesses were the early adopters of such solutions."

But as the technology becomes more affordable and the huge explosion in data shows no signs of slowing down, this is opening up the market to many more companies.

More than 90 per cent of electronic data that has ever existed has been created in the last two years, GfK observed, so with even the smallest firms generating huge amounts of information from more sources than ever before, employing data analytics to utilize this effectively will be essential.

For instance, being able to study customer buying behavior is something many firms can do to aid their decision-making for future strategy changes.

"Customer behavioral data can help planning and development – analyzing business-to-business customer purchasing data to understand patterns and allow the business to both plan for and react to these in real time," GfK stated.

Enterprises operating in the business-to-consumer market can also use data gathered from sources such as website interactions to develop real-time engagement plans to offer customers more relevant offers and improve conversion rates.

Another area where organizations of all sizes stand to benefit is dealing with production and process information. By using big data analytics solutions on these details, companies can identify any inefficiencies and adjust their priorities to make the best use of resources and materials.

This is a process that could be of particular interest in the current environment, where margins are tight and businesses need to be looking for any edge they can get to compete effectively in the difficult global economy.