About 90% of the world’s data was produced in the past two years with 2.5 Quintillion bytes of data created daily. This is why Data is considered as the most valuable resource in the world. Contrary to common beliefs, small businesses can immensely benefit from big data without spending a lot of money.
How to Use Big Data
Collecting data from your clients, the market, or even your competitors is easy in today’s data-centric world. But, comprehending it and extracting the best out of this data is of utmost importance. There are many ways in which data can be used in your small business, some of them being,
Supply Chain Management
Supply chain gets higher quality with big data. Get contextual intelligence about inventory management, customer needs, and the delivery flow-through analysis of your data. With big data, you can reduce the losses due to mismanagement of the supply chain process and also you can now handle more complex supplier networks.
Innovation and Product Development
As a small business owner, you might constantly be looking for innovative ideas for your services and products. Big data can help with this by letting you understand the pulse of your target audience and their preferences. An innovative idea is not just an idea if it is backed with data and stats. The risks behind launching new products are lowered considerably with the help of big data.
Big data is a powerful resource in many aspects of your business. Multi-National companies have lost millions of dollars from unsuccessful campaigns because of not understanding customer trends. Knowing your target audience is not enough for your marketing campaigns. A lot of research should go into understanding them and what they will like. Viral campaigns in today’s world cannot be created through a fluke. Acquiring and analyzing of data and careful ideation around the topic finalized is required.
Evaluating where you stand in your industry is essential. Though comparing yourself with others is not considered a good trait, we feel healthy competition is a growth factor.
Big data can be used to analyze the strengths of your competitors, the quality of their customers and their financials. This can help you understand where your business is and how far can it go. Big data can also help in knowing how your industry as a whole is performing and if it has growth potential.
Big data can help you hire the best of talents in the market. Candidate’s database, portfolios, reviews etc are great sources of data through which you can pick and choose the candidate best suited for you. Many small businesses also depend on data from social media to help understand their candidates better. Big data has helped the HR to move from data available only through candidate resume to huge amounts of information that even the candidates do not know where he had provided.
Like mentioned above, big data can be helpful in many or all aspects of your business. There are many direct and hidden advantages of big data that will change the way you see your business processes.
Increase Customer Insight
Small business owners should be on the lookout for opportunities to make use of big data. Great insights can be gained from the data that is already available on their website. You don’t have to invest in a lot of expensive software or data scientists to get great customer insights. You can simply extract and make sense of whatever is required to get specific information. For example, you can use FoxMetrics to analyze your website data to create user-targeted campaigns, integrate multiple widgets like email capture and notifications. Plans start at $99 per month, which seems expensive but an alternate financing option can help. When it comes to analyzing your social media pages, the most economical option would be to use free plans for multiple tools. One tool may offer free analytics for Facebook alone, while one may only provide the same for Twitter. Social media analysis can help you create better user-centered content, understand the competition and interact with the community.
With data constantly moving through the business, it is important to have processes to help the business owner monitor and maintain data quality. For example, what do you want visitors to do once they come to your site? Your analytics goals should be based on the actions you want your visitors to take. Also, consider specific goal focused questions (do you want visitors to make a purchase or download an EBook/Whitepaper) before KPIs are finalized. Once the pages you want to monitor are finalized based on these questions, you’ll be able to develop better marketing strategies with a better understanding of your target customers.
Big Data can be extremely useful if you want to receive high-quality information in a timelier manner. Business owners can adapt to real-time changes and make immediate adjustments using this type of machine learning and big data. Small businesses can do this better than bigger organizations because they don’t have to deal with strict compliance and more traditional employee hierarchies. This will make your website more interesting because you’re able to take swift actions tailored to the specific interest of the visitors. For example, you can send exclusive coupons to a visitor who continuously shows interest in certain products but haven’t made a purchase yet.
Technological advancements and the growth of service providers like Amazon Cloud Services has made cloud and data store available for the masses including small businesses. You can now open files without geographical restrictions provided that you have an internet connection and a subscription. Another useful feature is shared folders, allowing multiple personnel to work on the same sheet/presentation/document together without having to email versions back and forth.
Analyze the competition
There are free tools available like Google Trends and previously mentioned social media analytics tools that can help you understand how popular a product or brand is and what the online community is talking about you. These tools also let you check out your competition. For example, if your competitors are getting more social media engagement than yours, you can compare their content and campaign to yours to see what they are doing better than you.
To be truly successful, small businesses should ideally use the same tools that their competition is leveraging on. Hiring analysts, data scientists and researchers may not be an affordable option for small businesses. But there are techniques for small businesses to collect data, analyze it and get actionable insights. Some of them are the following:
- ClearStory Data combines your business’s internal data with external information and present the insights in a storyboard. The storyboard allows you to create graphs and storylines from the dashboard. ClearStory also provides department-wise data including marketing, sales, and customer analytics.
- Kissmetrics enables you to understand, segment and engage with your audience/customers based on their behavior. You can create, manage & automate the delivery of “single-shot” emails and ongoing email campaigns; all based on consumer behavior.
- Canopy Labs is a customer analytics platform that uses customer behavior, predictive behavioral models and sales trends to derive information for future marketing campaigns and also helps you discover the most opportune product suggestions.
- Qualtrics enables you to conduct studies and surveys to gain quality insights for informed business decisions. The company has also launched applications to manage the experiences provided to each stakeholder including customers, prospects, users, suppliers, investors, etc.
The time has never been more perfect for businesses to put the vast amount of information that they have at their disposal to good use and transform themselves into a more efficient and smarter organization. Big Data is the catalyst to transform your small business.