If you're a small private equity firm or boutique investment bank, the phrase 'big data' might not mean anything to you. At a high level, big data refers to the challenges of managing enormous amounts of customer, employee and other data that companies possess. Healthcare companies might leverage big-data tools to predict the likelihood of disease, while a bank would want to analyze which age brackets and zip codes are most likely to download a mobile banking application.

For a middle-market private equity firm or investment bank, spending time and money on harnessing big data might feel like a 'nice to have' vs. a necessity. After all, the databases within this market typically aren't that sizable-both in terms of volume and depth of information. If your sweet spot is consumer goods companies with Ebitda of $10 million to $30 million, the universe of potential targets and their executives is only so large. Perhaps you're generating enough deal flow with a few analysts, some outbound email marketing and sending your key people to the right conferences.

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