The Role of Big Data for Small Businesses
Data is everywhere. We’re surrounded by it. From analytics used by search engines to enhance algorithms to the social media info we share on a routine basis, data is a common part of life. Often, this is referred to as “Big Data,” because the modern business is beholden to mountains of information. Everything from demographics to user behavior is part of the Big Data surge, and it creates numerous value points to capitalize on if it’s used well.
But that’s the puzzle, isn’t it? Using data well. Larger enterprises have teams of people to digest and analyze the influx of data they receive on a second by second basis, turning it into comprehensive, actionable reports. Additionally, they have access to an arsenal of powerful analytical tools. But for small business owners, these resources aren’t always available. This doesn’t mean the precious big data is out of reach for smaller organizations, but it does raise the question: what’s the role in Big Data for small businesses, and how do you use it?
The proliferation of usable technology has allowed for greater accessibility with Big Data, and that’s a good thing. This info is mandatory to remain competitive in the modern market. However, it’s still worth understanding what comprises Big Data and how you can achieve ways to leverage it for your small-to-mid-sized organization.
Utilizing Big Data Tools
Information is like a river, flowing and constant. You need the proper resources to fish valuable tidbits from it, turning it into usable results. Thus, it’s wise to consider analytic tools for small business big data. Usually, having experts onboard can assist with data analyzation, but naturally, not all businesses have this advantage.
The tools used to study big data are numerous and varied, but they all achieve a similar goal: providing feedback for data pools. Let’s look at a few examples:
- Microsoft Power BI – This robust data visualization tool is part of the Office 365 suite of apps. There are hundreds of prebuilt and customized data sources you can connect to and build dashboards for. Power BI also has some advanced predictive abilities to help make your dashboards more effective.
- Google Data Studio – Like Power BI, Google Data Studio allows you to connect a variety of data sources into one simple dashboard. Unlike Power BI, Data Studio is free to use. The interface is simple and easy and almost every business can benefit from using Data Studio.
- Grow – Grow is another big data visualization tool that can compile and aggregate all of your data into one platform. One of Grow’s strengths is that its dashboards and charts are very well designed and fun to look at.
These are a handful of examples demonstrating how big data for small businesses is readily accessible, even without the same capital of a larger organization.
Using Big Data
With appropriate resources collected, the next question is: how can leverage this big data for your small business?
Interact With Customers
Big Data goes hand in hand with social media, from demographic information to how users engage with your website content (assuming you have it). Like we mentioned with our tools example, you can check for traffic volume to identify valuable content times. But it goes further than that. Identifying how customers interact with your content – social media or otherwise – allows you to curate specific content which generates more interest.
If you run a website about golf supplies and track keywords and activity to say “improve your swing,” you can focus on this as your next content approach. The content focuses on the age group, the key phrase, and timing of engagement.
Improve Customer Support
Improving customer support is one of the best ways to leverage big data for your small business. Positive customer experiences create value by improving brand strength and word of mouth reputation. Achieving this with big data is possible when implemented properly with support.
Analytics can identify common problems your support handles, what times they occur, and how frequently. Consolidating this into meaningful data allows your support teams to better handle customer problems. Big Data also grants insight into caller trends, streamlining the support model. What you gain is efficiency, saved time, and less capital invested in answering the same queries over and over.
Understand Customer Behavior
Trends gathered from studying Big Data are useful for more than service and social media. Identifying and understanding consumer behavior gives your smaller organization a sense of how to market, for who, and when.
Customer behavior can be viewed in a variety of ways, not just based on the amount of click saturation discovered with articles or social media. The benefits of doing so lead to various positives, such as the increased acquisition of new customers, less resource cost of customer acquisition, longer lifespan of customer trust, improvements to an online store, and better revenue/retention (to name a few).
For instance – you’re a real estate company, and thanks to analytic tools, you discover there is a decrease in sales around the end of the month, but an upswing during the spring season. You also identify common queries associated with those sales times, allowing you to curate responses for improved engagement. This means you spend fewer resources on trying to sell during slow seasons while focusing your resources towards improved marketing.
The Bigger Picture
When we talk about Big Data, even your small business can get a long term idea of various info bits, ranging from customer interaction, sales, support, website health, and more. Trends can be identified, down to the point, allowing a company to engage in critical decision making optimized for both their company and the user. You don’t need data scientists for it either: this deluge is accessible to more businesses by the year.
Technology has fallen in implementation cost, meaning studying Big Data is no longer beholden to enterprise giants. Even without expert staff, a mid-sized organization can navigate options like the tools we’ve listed, use third-party services, and engage in Big Data best practices. Big Data allows your practice to engage in efficient marketing campaigns, aggregate data sets into a useful format, make data-driven decisions, understand customer behavior, and so much more.
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