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Big data in and for small business: data excellence in SMEs through engagement in university partnerships

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Shirley ColemanORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a book chapter that has been published in its final definitive form by Edward Elgar., 2021.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


SMEs have the advantages of being flexible and agile but have the limitations of a more limited pool of in-house expertise. The welcome proliferation of data and the new wave of digital communication through Industry 4.0 mean that there are opportunities to be grasped. The necessary skills, however, may be outside of the skill-set used to set up the SME. To develop a data analytical capability, SMEs need to take action. The various options include up-skilling current staff, employing new ready-trained staff, bringing in consultants, making partnerships with more advanced non-competitor larger companies or SMEs, and teaming up with higher education providers. In this chapter we explore the pros and cons of SMEs working in partnership with universities to develop their data capabilities. Based on many years’ experience of working with SMEs, the chapter reviews what can be learnt from these partnerships.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Coleman SY

Editor(s): Adam Lindgreen, Thomas Ritter, Carsten Lund Pedersen, and Torsten Ringberg

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Big Data in Small Business: Data-driven Growth in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Year: 2021

Pages: 129-145

Print publication date: 28/09/2021

Acceptance date: 02/06/2021

Publisher: Edward Elgar.

Place Published: Cheltenham, UK


DOI: 10.4337/9781839100161

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781839100154