If you’re a small business owner that’s been intimidated by, it’s time to throw your trepidation out the window. Because its not the size of the data that matters, but how you use it that counts, small companies need “big data” just as much as the largest companies. Feeling confused? Not to worry, small steps will get you to the big picture – starting now.
What is Big Data?
Did you know that 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years? It’s true. This is also why big data is expected to be a $53.4 billion market by 2017, a huge jump from the $10.2 billion figure just last year in 2013.
Big data is actually pretty simple. It’s essentially the compilation of different types of data used to understand and explain human behavior. With this information in hand, large and small companies alike can make more informed decisions about their business. Simply, when you know more about how your customers think and act, you have the tools to reach them more effectively through smarter marketing strategies. Big data also enhances visibility into supply chain logistics, financial forecasting, and other critical areas of your business.
Kevin Woo, president of digital analytics firm Pointmarc, breaks this down even further. In the “5 Things All Small Businesses Must Know About Big Data” Mashable article, he says: “If you can gain a holistic view of your customer by connecting all of your different data capture points, you have the opportunity to vastly improve both the immediate user experience and the long-term perception of your brand. In the age of the empowered consumer, the execution of big data strategies will prove to be one of the largest differentiators for everything from small business to Fortune 500 companies, particularly within retail and media industries.”
Putting big data into practice
Big data can seem overwhelming if you try to approach it all at once. Start with baby steps, by asking yourself important razor-like focus questions such as these:
- What business problem are you trying to solve?
- How can you increase sales to target demographic?
- Should you expand your product line into a new market?
- What do you need to know about your consumers that will make your strategy sing?
- Do they prefer in-store shopping experience or online shopping?
- Do they wait for promotional offers before making a purchase?
- What answers from your customers can transform your business?
- Are they only communicating with you through social media?
- Why did this campaign fall flat?
- How can you better talk to customers the next time?
Every company will have their own extensive list of questions. These questions, in turn, will provide the basis of your data analytics strategy. You will then need to transform these answers into actionable marketing strategies.
Big data is also critical to pinpointing small nuggets of business-changing information. For example, suppose your new product bombed in its debut. Sales were dismal and most people labeled it a failure. Do you throw away the product based solely on the sales spreadsheet? Not necessarily, since big data can paint a different picture. By digging deeper into the data you may come to find that this “loser” product was actually a huge winner with your most profitable and lucrative target audience. With this insight, you may decide to take very different steps from the ones you may have taken if you were only relying on the initial piece of the puzzle. Big data – smart data – matters.
Big data and the “big picture”
Whether your company is large or small, you’ll always need to understand the big picture for your business. Big data helps get you there by providing insights into your business and your customers, as well as offering a better gauge of your key performance indicators. Big data tools range in size, capacity, price, and ability, so look for the solution that makes the most sense for you. Don’t get bogged down by fancy terms and technology platforms; it’s all about unlocking the intricate puzzle of your business through smart questions that will transform answers into a business-building roadmap.
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“5 Things All Small Businesses Must Know About Big Data.” Mashable. July 31, 2014. http://mashable.com/2014/07/31/big-data-explained
“Surprising Statistics About Big Data.” Baseline. February 18, 2014. http://www.baselinemag.com/analytics-big-data/slideshows/surprising-statistics-about-big-data.html