How Small Businesses Can Benefit from Big Data
When you hear of terms like ‘big data’, it is almost natural for your mind to go into overdrive thinking that this is something from which only big conglomerates can benefit. But, regardless of the size of your organization or company, there are ways through which you can take advantage of big data to formulate better and more efficient business practices. Whether you are a small business owner operating in a town that everyone knows everyone else or you are a freelancer working on various projects, you can use the information extrapolated from big data to profit.
What is big data, honestly?
Simply put, big data is an accumulation of information gathered from a wide range of areas. It could be anything, from clientele buy habits, to operational methods that work as well as profit and loss columns.
This assumption that only big companies with big budgets can benefit from big data is because a lot of this information can only be handled offsite. With the help of expert data scientists and huge research firms that have the resources, technical as well as brain power, to accurately interpret and break this data down to usable information.
The truth is, most big data issues can only be handled by such firms. But that does not mean that the small business owner who does not have millions of dollars to throw at this cannot gain from big data. It only takes a little creativity. If you know where to look, you definately can gather, interpret and make use of data that is readily available for you. Here are some simple ways to formulate big data solutions and customize them to your small business.
What resources do you have?
Before we even go into how you can use big data to benefit your small business, we should look at the type of resources you have at your disposal to gather and read this type of data. Although professional data scientists had to go through years of higher education to learn how to do what it is they do with data, as a small business owner, you may not have that much time or money to go back to school and learn all about research and statistical interpretation.
There are, however, some readily available tools that you can use to help you interpret large quantities of data for your small business. These tools include:
- Kissmetrics: This is a platform that goes to great lengths to help you identify your best customers as well as increase conversions.
- Google Analytics: We bet you didn’t think that this amazing free tool that helps interpret what your website is doing for your business was a small part of big data solutions. Yes, using Google Analytics, you can start making sense of just how valuable your website is to your brand and determine what it is you need to do to increase that value. It is simple, it is free and you can sign up for it and start using it today.
- IBM’s Watson Analytics: This has to be one of the best tools a small business owner could use when it comes to big data interpretation. IBM’s Watson Analytics goes to great lengths to automate the whole process for you.
What do you need to do to benefit from big data?
As we have already mentioned, you have a lot of information at your disposal. Information that, if interpreted correctly, can help you shape a brighter future for your business based on its historical occurrences. This information includes data such as:
- How much traffic are you getting from your blog or website?
- How well your sales team is doing and which methods work best?
- When do you get the most customers?
- How do you capture repeat customers?
- How much are you paying in terms of overheads?
- Which products sell best?
As a small business, you can use big data to improve on and develop new products that can help you get a bigger share of the market. But before you even go that far, you need to know what to do in order to benefit from big data.
Identify the most important pieces of information within your business
One of the main reasons as to why small business owner do not think that they can benefit from big data is because they get overwhelmed by all the information they come across. Faced with all those complicated numbers, it is only natural for you to throw your hands up and say this isn’t for you. But sometimes, less is more.
Forget all that noise about how much data there is within any business model. Focus on the data that is most important to you. As a small business owner, this will be the information appertaining to how you can increase your sales and grow your brand. Focus on that information.
Use the tools at your disposal to asses how your frequent buyers behave. Look at your website analytics and determine what it is that attracts new visitors the most to your site and what is it that converts them to clients. Once you identify these key factors, all you have to do intensify your promotion of them to increase their conversion rate.
Use whatever tools are at your disposal
Although there will come a point when you have to shell out a bit of money for this, you can still find free tools online that can help you interpret your data. The best of them have already been mentioned here. Some of them are not free, but they are quite affordable. Make use of them and see just how useful they are to you and your brand.
Make it simple
Do not try to do what big research firms do and complicate matters. All you need is a simple formula that works for your business. If you find that Google Analytics is best for you, then prioritize this and specialize in using it. The better you get at it, the more opportunities you will be able to identify within the information you use.
Big data doesn’t have to be a scary word for small business owners. Neither does it have to be synonymous with big money. With a little creativity, you can also make use of big data and improve your bottom-line.