How Small Business can Leverage Big Data

bigdataBig data they call it. Just another fancy name coined in the melee of technological inventions (both hardware and software) we’re living in today. As with all technologies in the workplace, it has and continues to intimidate many – small and large business alike.

What’s all the hype and huge investments into it, you may wonder? Simply put, it simplifies the decision-making process for businesses.

What does it all mean?

In a nutshell, it is the collections of data (structured and unstructured) created by individuals, companies and organizations.

Structured data involves the likes of databases and spreadsheets – basically any data that is easy to sort and manage. Unstructured data, on the other hand, is just that: unstructured. Could be anything from social media data (Tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts) to videos published across the Internet, to blog posts etc.

As you may have guessed, this represents the larger share given its creation at breakneck speeds: there are about 2 million Google searches, 200 million sent emails, and 685,000 Facebook updates happening online every minute.

To bring this into focus, big data is being leveraged by business with the aim of gaining a competitive edge (not necessarily with a competitor). It is now easy to tell about your interests using your browsing history, or social media conversations, or viewed clips on YouTube. And it is this kind of information that businesses are paying for to search engines to target you better, and in turn, you have higher chances of buying from them. They call it conversion.

But I digress.

Don’t get caught up in the Hype

With the term big data being thrown in all directions lately, does this mean your small business should be intimidated by the need to amass this collection of data to prevent being left behind? Not at all.

As an SME owner, avoid being swept by the flurry of catchphrases and especially big data mania. For you, it’s not about the amount of terabytes of data, but rather, what you can do with your existing data to grow and improve your business. For John’s garage or Mrs. Pickle’s confectionery shop down the road, it doesn’t matter if it’s 2 billion petabytes of data.

Your Philosopher’s Stone

So then, what should you care about?

When it comes to big data and small business, the wise thing would be to zero in on that information that can improve business operations or customer service. You can capture this data from your business website, your business social media accounts or emails from existing customers, probably inquiries from potential ones. Then analyze it to improve on things.

You notice the masses complaining on social media about one of your products or some of your services or employee service? Fantastic, grab that ‘big data’ and leverage it to your advantage by making the necessary improvements. It’s the most genuine feedback you’ll get, plus it’s free, right? Then again, it means having a good web presence. If you aren’t listening online at this day, then you have reason to get worried.

There is a cornucopia of software and services online that come at a relatively cheap cost that can help you analyze your social media data. A customer relationship management program (CRM) is another great way to start. It helps keep track of interactions with customers which can shed a lot of insight – low hanging fruit right there.

You don’t need to purchase a host of servers and software to leverage big data.

About the Author

Roger Feinstein has grown up with computers his entire life and strives to help others understand what goes on behind the scenes in their PCs. He's been writing tech articles for websites for over 5 years.

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