Big Data Infusion into Small Business: How to Do It Right
Today, when big data is accessible and highly detailed, not using it is a conscious choice to limit your business. A small business can make use of it as well as giant corporations do as long as they know how to do it and use the right solutions for processing and analyzing relevant information. It’s also essential to understand that using big data for small businesses isn’t as much about the quantity of the information a company has access to, instead, it’s about timely updates on the customers’ preferences that enable you to adapt quickly and stay a step ahead of the competition.
The Purpose of Using Big Data for a Small Business
Articles on the benefits and uses of big data are full of phrases like ‘customer analysis and targeting,’ ‘problem solving,’ ‘efficiency optimization,’ etc. These things are informative but also very confusing and make the very concept of big data applications seem a lot more convoluted than it is.
The #1 most important thing to know about using big data for small businesses (or any business for that matter) is that it helps you make better decisions.
Therefore, to make the best use of this invaluable resource, you have to:
- Identify the types of data your business needs most.
- Find and use the most efficient solutions for processing and analyzing those specific types of data.
- Make quick changes to your business process based on the information gained during the previous step.
The scheme seems extremely simple and straightforward. However, as big data is a rather complex ‘entity,’ so is the application for a small business.
Using Big Data for Small Businesses: Applications and Sources
The main applications of big data for small companies include:
- Improvement of customer understanding
- Improvement of the business operations (based on the incoming data from real-time analysis)
- Monetization of the collected data
- Finding new business opportunities
- Improvement of marketing campaigns
In all these cases your company can use several data sources. One is the information coming from the real-time analysis of your own business. It can be collected and processed using a variety of specialized solutions.
You can also develop your own solutions that will not only collect data on your customers’ behavior but on your product performance. For example, embedding a data-gathering AI feature into your product that will alert the user when maintenance or repairs are due. This will both boost the user experience and provide relevant info on the product’s usage and performance to make the next model even better.
You also shouldn’t forget about data-gathering solutions like Pingdom, updown, and Uptime Robot. These don’t provide ‘big data’ perse, but they collect, monitor, and process information on your website’s performance. For any small business that uses a shared server, this is essential data as you can’t risk losing customers due to an unnoticed crash or bad uptime. Small companies can use this type of data for assessing their current host and finding a better business website hosting.
The sources of big data for a small business that doesn’t rely on the analysis of the data coming from the company itself are ‘datasets’ and data brokers. The former is often free, but you’ll need to spend a lot of time surfing through them to find the kind of information you need. And you have to accept that it won’t be customized for your specific business’s needs, so you’ll need to perform some additional analysis for integrating it into your strategy.
The best sources among these include:
- gov (US)
- EU Open Data Portal (EU)
- gov.uk (UK)
- Socrata (US)
- Canada Open Data (Canada)
- org (Canada, US, EU, CKAN, etc.)
- CIA World Factbook (267 countries)
- Amazon Web Services
- Facebook Graph
- Google Public Data Explorer
- Google Trends
- World Health Organization
- Pew Research Center
- UCI Machine Learning Repository
The services of data brokers can be quite expensive for a small business. However, they can customize the sets of information provided to clients to ensure its maximum usability and efficiency. Some of the companies that deal in data are Acxiom, Equifax, Experian, and Nielsen. They release regular reports on a variety of topics that any company should be able to afford.
Big Data for Small Business: Indispensable Tools
In Thomas H. Davenport’s article on Analytics 3.0 (which is essentially the use of big data as we know it today) for Harvard Business Review, the author highlights that Google, Amazon, and other highly successful businesses of today achieved success by providing customers with ‘shortcuts’ to the information/product/service they seek. Today, any company can do this by understanding what it is that their customers seek. That’s where big data comes into play.
One of the best tools to provide you with this kind of data is Kissmetrics. It’s a customer intelligence platform that specializes in tracking, processing, and analyzing data used for marketing and increasing ROI. The tool is quite versatile with features dedicated to increasing sales and making design improvements. Kissmetrics also launches multiple studies and surveys that provide important insight into the global consumer behavior and can be used for refining one’s marketing entire strategy.
Google Analytics is a basic tool for any business that wants to rank high on Google (basically everyone who isn’t targeting China). This tool can separate and process data from both desktop and mobile traffic. It has robust data visualization features and a large selection of great tracking codes. The customer insights provided by this tool are unmatched today and it’s a fantastic solution for understanding traffic sources.
IBM Cognos Analytics
Using big data for small business isn’t all about tracking website traffic. It’s also about tracking, compiling, and analyzing a variety of data coming from multiple other sources. This task is easily performed using IBM Cognos Analytics. This solution enables one to create visual data dashboards and share them, creating a ‘live’ data processing environment. The platform will connect all your devices and can be used online and offline. It’s a great way of bringing together the work results of outsourced experts.
InsightSquared is a solution that brings together data from various CRM solutions to make it easier to process ‘en masse.’ This tool allows for more efficient tracking and analysis of all your solutions and combining all of it for easier decision making. Note that this tool can effectively integrate solutions like Google Analytics, QuickBooks, Zendesk, etc.
Big Data for Small Business: Conclusion
Using big data is essential for any business that wants to succeed in the modern information-driven era. The extreme level of demand for it resulted in the appearance of sources affordable and available to small businesses as well. So, what you need to do is to seize these opportunities using specialized processing and analysis tools. Focus on identifying the information relevant to your specific business to use your available resources and funds most efficiently.
We hope you enjoyed this promoted post as much as we did!