Big Data: What's in it for Small Businesses?
The phrase “Big Data” has become so recognizable that just the sound of it has everyone nodding their heads in understanding. We all know that the amount of data out there is growing, and can be put to good use by organizations to make a better impact. If you thought that “big” data was only for “big” organizations like IBM or Microsoft, this is where you might be missing out on a major opportunity for your startup, niche or small business.
Whether you are a traditional and long-standing small business or a fresh new startup, there is definitely something that you can achieve with big data. Any company that offers cloud computing services has to instinctively gather and make use of big data, the size of the business notwithstanding. Here are 5 ways in which your smaller organization can make use of big data:
Think of the big picture: Some of the challenges faced by a small organization could be unique and very different from those of a bigger one, and these need to be handled according to the need. With big data, you cannot apply a “one size fits all” approach, but instead look at the overall requirements of the business and use the data accordingly. It is also important to look ahead to the future capacity of your organization. There might be a lot of data collected that is only going to be useful to you at a later stage of your business, but it still makes sense to collect and store it right from the beginning.
Start small: Do not try to achieve all your goals with manipulating large amounts of data right from the beginning. It makes sense to use a smaller target group of customers and a subset of the large amount of data, to ascertain that you are on the right track before going ahead with increasing the scope of the exercise. In this way, everyone in the organization is on the same page about the way the data is to be interpreted, and you will be able to achieve the best results.
Pick and choose: Have you heard of zettabytes? That refers to 1 sextillion bytes and might just be the next measure for data. That’s the type of growth that we are looking at in the context of big data. This means that it can become overwhelming for a small business to gather, store and make sense of the amount of data that is going to be gathered over a period of time. It would probably make sense to zero in on the type of data that has the most relevance for the current and future workings of your organization, and focus on this subset instead of trying to address it as a whole.
Interpret and act on the data quickly: Some traditional organizations may not yet be used to how fast everything must move in the world of big data, though other advances like cloud computing might have already changed this approach. It is not enough to amass the data, but also necessary to interpret and act on it in the least amount of time as well. It is also important that all the units of the business such as marketing, sales and technology teams are in the loop, and think similarly on the interpretation and use of this data. This is the only way for businesses to stay ahead of their competitors, all of who would be working with comparable sets of data from a similar body of customers.
Use the power of analytics: Many small businesses as diverse as a vacation rental company, a zoo and aquarium, and a car marketplace have used analytics on big data to make a difference. The amount of historic data that is stored by organizations can become a major strength when big data comes into the picture. It can be used for forecasts of weather patterns, occupancy of holiday rentals, and even to assess the viability of a used car, to name a few examples from the same article.
If you are the owner of a small business who has been contemplating taking the plunge into the world of big data, there is really no time like the present! We hope these tips will answer any initial doubts in your mind, and please do let us know any other questions and thoughts in the comments below.