Without a doubt, Big Data has been one technology that has revolutionized the business world. From being a buzzword to an organizational necessity, big data has come a long way. Today, almost all successful organizations across the globe are taking a data-driven path to reach their goals, improve efficiencies and productivity, find avenues for growth and better their company bottom line. The mountains of data collected by companies hold valuable insights that propel them in their march for success. Data, thus, has become a strategic asset and should be used to make all organization related decisions, right? While this is the case for most large organizations, small businesses are still shy of leveraging big data despite generating huge volumes of data each year. Nick Heudecker, research director at Gartner states, “The big issue is not so much big data itself, but rather how it is used. While organizations have understood that big data is not just about a specific technology, they need to avoid thinking about big data as a separate effort.“
In the past, small businesses were not able to leverage big data primarily because of the budget constraints and the dearth of expertise. However, with greater adoption of big data across industries, today we have a variety of self-service big data tools that anyone, irrespective of their technical background, can use effectively to gain intelligent insights. Simple user interfaces, improved algorithms, better visualization tools, natural language capabilities and analytics bring big data within reach of the SMB’s and can now be used by them to grow smarter and improve their business outcomes in this age of disruption. IDC estimates that there will be over 44 trillion gigabytes of data by circa 2020 and it is only a matter of time that it will become a de-facto part of doing business. It, thus, makes sense for small businesses to incorporate big data into their business as early as possible. In this blog, we take a look at some ways in which small businesses can leverage big data.
Where Should You Use Big Data?
It can be easy for small businesses to get overwhelmed by the data deluge. However, instead of looking at big data simply as a tool to solve business problems that give them fact-based insights and helps them break away from the disjointed and piecemeal approach to business problems, it becomes essential to take a structured approach towards big data for organizational benefits. For this, businesses first need to identify the problems they need to solve and then find the data to get a solution. Identifying critical pieces of information that are relevant to the business, analyzing the technology requirements, the associated costs and subsequent revenue and savings help small businesses take small and yet assured steps into the big data world.
Identifying Problem Areas
It is essential for small businesses to ensure that there are no leaks in the system that lead to productivity and revenue drain. However, often this exercise is executed on the basis of the traditional ‘gut feeling’. By collecting and analyzing data in relation to everyday processes gives small businesses clear insights into what they have been doing right and which processes need improvement. As Cindy Jutras, President of Mint Jutras rightly states, “Many small business owners still believe their gut is their best tool for decision-making. But the world is changing too quickly today to rely on that.”
Getting A 360-Degree Customer View
Big data can help small businesses gain a 360 degree of their customers to understand how to interact and engage with them better. With big data, they can assess what makes the customer tick, what makes them switch to a competitor, what factors contribute to them recommending a company, what does their preferred shopping experience look like etc. With the help of data, small companies can create more personalized customer experiences and improve customer journeys. They can also leverage data to make more targeted marketing campaigns that can be delivered at the right time on the right channel. Data generated from customer feedback can be analyzed to identify desired improvements in the product or service.
Increase Pricing Efficiency
Big data can help small businesses make effective pricing strategies. Instead of going by the ‘trial and error’ method, small companies can leverage big data to make pricing decisions by evaluating data from sources such as customer behavior across locations, marketing campaign goals, service or product group surveys etc. By evaluating data generated from these sources, they can come up with pricing strategies such as differentiated pricing or versioning pricing.
Small businesses can use big data to identify the direction of their business. Big data provides valuable insights into behaviors, patterns and the present economic climate which helps businesses understand the direction which their industry is moving towards. Armed with this knowledge, small businesses can start developing products or services that they know their customers are going to demand in the near future and hence, stay ahead of the curve. Data gathered from sentiment analysis can help businesses understand what more do customers want from their product and thereby capitalize on trends and make more customer specific products. By generating advanced analysis reports small businesses can develop more detailed and successful strategies and make more informed decisions that can help reduce customer churn.
Improve Decision Making
Success for any business lies in strategic decision making. Small businesses can leverage the power of big data and eliminate the element of intuition from their decision-making process and make it more structured. Data from customers, product profitability, customer acquisition strategies, market segmentation, operations, supply chain and delivery channels etc. can be leveraged to make the decision-making process more accurate and also easier.
Small companies can leverage big data to find the most suitable candidate for their business by identifying the best recruitment channels. It can also help companies manage existing employees better, reduce attrition and improve employee engagement by reviewing absenteeism figures, personal development reviews, productivity data etc.
For success in their big data initiatives, small businesses need to take an organized approach towards data and start small so that they can move fast. Big Data expert Bernard Marr noted that since small businesses have a relatively small universe of queries they can focus on solving specific problems with big data. He further explains that “In many ways, big data is suited to small business in ways that it never was for big business – even the most potent insights are valueless if your business is not agile enough to act on them in a timely fashion. Small businesses have the advantage of agility, making it perfectly suited to act on data-derived insights with speed and efficiency.”
Clearly, with big data, small businesses can see the forest instead of just seeing the trees…and given the number of self-service tools available in the market, small businesses no longer have any reason to stay away from big data.