How to Leverage Big Data in Small Businesses
Few can dispute the importance of data in the success of any enterprise. As we enter a data-driven environment in the modern workplace, data has become a key factor in practically every aspect of business operations, including manufacturing and production, sales and marketing, human resources and the decision making of business leaders.
Big data on a smaller budget
The availability of so much data today—collectively known as big data, has certainly provided organisations with information they can use to transform their business. Conversely, it’s easy for small businesses to become overwhelmed by all the raw data coming in from a vast range of sources, especially if they lack the resources that larger enterprises have such as a well-structured IT environment, data scientists, analysts and the like.
The good news is that big data isn’t just for the big corporations. For starters, small businesses may have existing tools and reports that can form the foundation of their big data initiatives. For instance, you can use email marketing reports, website analytics and sales reports to evaluate the different parts of your current operations.
In addition, using data collection and analytics tools that are accessible in the market, small businesses can further mine valuable information they need from other sources of big data such as social or machine data. Many of these software applications are available as cloud services so that SMEs need not allocate substantial investments for network and IT infrastructure in order to activate these tools.
Leveraging big data for the small business
There are many ways in which small businesses can leverage the power of big data analytics to remain competitive in the market. Let’s discuss the key uses that have proven valuable to many SMEs.
Greater understanding of customers. At the core of every business is, unarguably, the ability to get more customers and retain existing ones, thereby increasing sales. Big data provides significant information that can guide businesses to better know their customers, helping them to understand customers’ buying patterns, budget, spending habits, and more.
With this knowledge, SMEs can tailor their products and services to match the preferences of their target demographic. They can also better customise client interactions, enhancing the customer experience.
Improved marketing strategies. Cloud-based data analytics tools allow businesses to see where potential buyers are in the various stages of the sales cycle. Coupled with a better understanding of customers’ purchasing decisions, smaller enterprises can plan out marketing campaigns through their website and/or social media that are relevant to the targeted customer personas.
This could increase chances of a sale, gaining you a new or repeat customer. Furthermore, you can always review the conversion rates afterwards to determine the effectiveness of the campaign and how it can be improved.
Efficient recruitment of employees. Big data plays a significant role in helping businesses find the right people for their organisation. With the digitisation of CVs and application letters, any business can have access to a greater number of potential recruits in a shorter period of time.
These digital resumés can be further supported by professional social media accounts that will allow HR departments to efficiently evaluate applicants and create a shortlist of the most suitable candidates.
Improved customer service. We’re in a digital age where many customers tend to air out complaints on social media rather than bringing them up directly with the company concerned. With over 500 million tweets posted daily (not counting Facebook posts and other sites), organisations are bound to miss issues raised through social media, leading to dissatisfied clients and a tarnished image for the business.
Fortunately, there are many cloud services that allow businesses to quickly track, investigate, and resolve customer issues. Information collected from client surveys and feedback can also help SMEs identify which initiatives are making a positive impact on the customer experience.
Support for key business decisions. Business organisations, even the smaller ones, constantly tweak different aspects of their operations in order to increase revenue, reduce costs and maximise employee productivity. Before, these changes involved a lot of trial and error to achieve the desired objective.
Big data analytics, however, simplifies the testing process because management can now make informed business decisions based on collated information, often presented through visual tools such as graphs and charts. For instance, the impact of a price decision can be quickly evaluated by analysing customer response to the pricing changes.
Make your data work for you
There’s so much relevant information to be mined from big data that all businesses, regardless of size, can find value in it. The availability of cloud services and solutions makes it possible for smaller companies to reap the benefits of data analytics just like the ‘big’ players have done. Focus on what you want to achieve first with your big data project, find the right tools for it, partner with a reliable consultant (if an inhouse data analyst is not possible), and discover game-changing insight from your data for your business.