Over the past years, Big Data for small businesses has been democratized. Now more and more businesses understand what it is, but many still do not yet fully get how it works. Using large sets of data collected through various platforms and analyzing them conjointly helps to spot trends and patterns, and ultimately leads to more efficient business operation—as well as better decision-making. Big data for small businesses is an excellent option for optimizing your success.
Any function and industry can benefit from the collection and analysis of data, but for some time, it remained hard to get. This was when price tags were scary for SMBs (small and mid-size businesses), and when in-house IT capacity to turn analytics into success was only limited to multinationals and big corporations. However, much has changed since then. Why, and specifically how, can big data for small businesses create benefits? This is what we will discuss in this article.
Why Small Businesses Can Also Benefit From Big Data
Data is becoming increasingly important to business and is gaining a predominant place in society in general, and small businesses should also harness its power. You can use big data to save a lot of time and money assessing consumers’ trends and habits, customer price sensitivity, users behavior on your website or within your app, and early-anticipated shifts in demand.
All the data sets, even small data sets you collect, can provide you with insights that are extremely valuable for your business. The good news is that you probably already are in possession of such data sets, even if you are not aware of it or don’t know how to handle it.
Doing so will improve your operations, and let your activity run more smoothly and efficiently. You can improve quality control, assess processes to adjust them when needed, detect and prevent fraud, assess risk, etc. It will also, as stated earlier, help you understand your customer base better, and anticipate their demand better. Predicting the changes is crucial if you want to stay agile to ever-changing needs. Ultimately, all of this knowledge will enable you to answer critical business questions to remain competitive and strive for success.
How To Do It: The 4 Steps To Follow
1. Don’t Be Afraid Of Big Data Anymore
The past years have seen the development of self-service and accessible business intelligence for small- and medium-size businesses. The cloud-based technology combined with the incredible drop of data storage prices makes it easier to collect information; you only need to connect it to one of the software providing analytics for small business and start turning your data into informed decisions.
There are some analytics platforms that start for as low as $100 monthly, offering various subscription packages priced according to the services you get from them. The advantage of these platforms (which are usually cloud-based), is that they do not require an incredible amount of money upfront, and they are created so that everyone can interact easily with their data even if they are no IT pro – so don’t be afraid of handling your data by yourself anymore!
2. Consider An Analytics Platform For Small Businesses
As mentioned above, these BI tools come in handy. They are often equipped with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that makes it simple to analyze data. For more advanced knowledge, and SQL queries, are also often available. Such independence from the IT department (if you have one) is a competitive advantage: you don’t need to wait for a report, and can get down to the analysis straight away.
It is easy to combine various data sources and analyze their output conjointly in order to spot trends that would otherwise be overlooked. Presenting the results thanks to the data visualizations provided is very effective when it comes to communication. Thanks to an online dashboard, everyone in your team or management will always have the information needed, wherever they might be.
3. Don’t Drown In Data
More data is not always equal to better for a business. It can be easy to drown under big data, because well, it’s indeed big. Don’t waste time on data that is not directly meaningful to you – to do so, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions beforehand to make sure you are on the right path and that you are looking for things that are aligned with your strategic goals.
Even as a small business, you certainly operate with various disparate data sources to collect the different information you need. BI tools bring them all under one roof to allow you analyze it all in one centralized place, which facilitate the data analysis and avoid the feeling of drowning in data.
4. Importance of Security
Security is very important, especially for SMBs. One study found that 60% of small businesses that experienced data breaches were forced into bankruptcy within six months.
Your business might not be the size of Skype, Yahoo, or Uber, but it can just as well suffer from hacking into its security and data breaches like so many big companies already have. Spend some time thinking about the potential weak points of your business and find solutions. That will always save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Likewise, keep in mind that the countries you are operating in do not always follow the same rules as yours: you have to stay on the safe side of the law with data, and this is all the more important since the GDPR came into force in Europe in May 2018. A few tips you can use when you want to go big on big data cybersecurity:
- Consult with a cyber-security expert and an attorney before you start collecting customer data
- Make it easy for customers to opt-out and unsubscribe
- Partner with a trusted and licensed company on securing the data.
Once you have gone through the different steps and considered the various things at stake, you are ready to start harnessing the power of big data and make better-informed and sound decisions. With the help of lightweight and powerful analytic tools, more and more small businesses can benefit from big data – why not yours?