Big data

Top Reasons Why Small Businesses Need Big Data

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Every small business and start-up wants to become one of the big players, earning big numbers and with a significant advantage on their side, but it is often not possible for small businesses to make that shift.

Big data is a game changer on so many levels, and it can be integrated in every part of your business. Essentially, by using big data, businesses, large and small, are able to focus themselves more directly on increasing their value, by targeting the most profitable areas relating to their business, and avoiding risky and unprofitable practices. As Laura Schneider of HBR claims, 80.7% of executives characterize their big data investments as ‘successful’ –  there is clearly something good happening here.

Data is the lifeblood of everything, not just business. Almost all decisions, when you really think about it, are made with some kind of data that people have retrieved – they may not have always understood why something is correct, but they have always been able to get the data to prove it.

What big data does is make that information more manageable. Instead of uncovering insights in the aftermath of an event, big data makes insights a daily occurrence. With it, you can create hypotheses and test the results, for instance, ‘what if we did this?’ or ‘what if we did that?’ and so on. Small businesses have become more streamlined and specific in their approach as they are no longer acting on questionable intuition, but on real evidence.

Here are some of the top reasons why small businesses need big data:

There is already a wealth data out there to use

Every business, profitable or not, is sitting on a goldmine – their own data! All businesses collect it, as Bernard Marr explains: “If the business has a website, a social media presence, accepts credit cards etc., even a one-person shop has data it can collect on its customers”. Many small businesses have at least three or all of these things and all of it can be analyzed.

However, it’s not only the best companies that are using it to their advantage, it is something every business can get on board with. With real tools to analyze their data or with the assistance of data analysis services, such as data science company InData Labs, businesses are able to develop a clearer image of their business and industry. Any business person who doesn’t value their data or the data of others is a fool.

Automate and accelerate decision-making

According to BI-SURVEY, some of the most influential reasons why companies use big data are:

  • Automation of decision-making (19%)
  • Acceleration of decision-making (31%)
  • Building predictive models (51%).

With the help of big data, these processes are much easier. With it you will be more able to see cause and effect in your business practices, and set in place easy to follow rules on how to respond when decisions need to be made. Or perhaps you can even automate decisions by creating a system that makes these decisions for you.

On top of that, you will then be able to monitor how your new methods are working and, if necessary, tweak them until they work perfectly. This can be applied in almost all areas of business, from customer relations, issues with suppliers, managing employees workloads and even HR, to name a few.

Improve your customer experience

As mentioned above, websites and social media are two of the ways companies can collect data on their customers. Using big data is one of the best ways for small businesses to understand what their customers and clients really think of them. Feedback can be collected in obvious ways, such as surveys and posted comments. But there are also less obvious ways, such as how they navigate websites, and by monitoring customer-employee interactions. This allows small businesses to build on what works for their customers and stay away from what doesn’t.

However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. By collecting data on your customers, you can make their experience more personalized. You will know what they want even before they do, because the data you collect will work it out for you. Small businesses with this advantage can improve their customer experience by offering products they know their customers are interested in, or may be interested in based on similar profiles, and offer these suggestions via email or by providing suggestions when they visit the business’ website.

Cut costs

Big data is not only about tightening your operations and driving higher profits. It can also help you to spot risk and overspending. In this sense, big data is better than insurance, it safeguards you by allowing you to slash unnecessary spending and make safer decisions. Big data has a close relationship with risk management and is ideal for monitoring where your money is going.

But don’t just think it’s about your suppliers and customers, it’s also very useful for working out who your best employees are – who puts in the most work and who doesn’t. By using big data to monitor employee output, small businesses can focus on creating a more productive workforce.

Using big data may seem like a huge change to some, but its benefits are far reaching. It empowers all areas of business and, once you understand how much it can improve a business’ performance, you will see why data scientists receive such high salaries. It gifts businesses, big and small, immense control by showing them not only how to improve, by highlighting what is or isn’t working, or what may or may not work when it comes to decision-making. It also shows how to continue improving in a stable and healthy way. A small business that uses big data to improve its chances isn’t likely to turn back.

Big data is not just that extra boost small businesses can take advantage of to get ahead of their competition, it is fast becoming a necessity that is used to stay in the game and grow, and those that fail to use it to its full potential are destined to get left behind in a bygone era.

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Maria Weinberger

Maria Weinberger has over 5 years’ experience as a technology journalist; writing on subjects such as big data, AI and innovations for a range of publications.