Big data means a lot of things, but to business it means any data that derives from things that businesses do, for example: business processes, internal and external interactions, customer engagements, finance distribution, resource management, the list is endless.
Big brands have rapidly adopted the use of big data analytics to make more informed decisions about how to grow their business and see hugely positive results. A lot of small businesses may understand that there are benefits but have nowhere near the kind of time or money to invest like the big brands do. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still bypass your competitors with the same tactics.
How can big data benefit my business?
There are limitless ways in which effective big data analytics can help your business to achieve the results it needs. For example, big data can (and currently is for many companies) offer key insights into:
· Enhancing product or service quality
· Improving marketing operations
· Accurately targeting a specific demographic
· Furthering customer relationship
For example, big data can enable businesses to learn how visitors move and interact with their websites, how they navigate themselves from page to page, where they spend most of their time and what gets the most ‘clicks’. This sort of information can generate data about what engages viewers the most, and what deters them. This allows businesses to find the most effective promotional and cross-selling opportunities, how to boost the visibility of particular products and build a website that generates more sales. Alternatively, high-street stores have adopted similar tactics by offering free WiFi in stores which also enables the business to anonymously track the movement of customers to see which areas they spend their most time browsing and the general directionality of their movements.
How do I get big data?
In big data there are two ways of using it to business advantage:
1. Analysing the data to find key trends to motivate business moves
2. Have a business goal in mind and use big data to achieve it
The second is much more helpful for smaller businesses as it requires less time, less complex analytics and will give you positive results much faster. The first option is great if you have large amounts of data and can afford to invest a great deal into finding out what it means for your business, however this is usually only achievable for very large corporations.
Getting the right data and choosing the right analytics tool are both equally important in generating the information you need and to get the best results that will be most helpful to your business it’s best to know exactly what you want to achieve. By adopting a focused approach it allows you to find the best tool or best provider for that particular goal, helping you to see better results. Some questions that big data could help you answer might be:
· How do I increase sales for a particular product?
· How do I increase my week-day sales?
· How can I reduce my labour costs?
· How can I generate repeat business faster?
Business-centric questions enable you to tackle the vast world of big data with a strategic goal in mind. Rather than blindly hoping for a business revolution, this powerful tool can be the main catalyst to achieving the results you want. Very simply, this could mean learning which products are most commonly bought together, which services are most used by a certain kind of customer (gender, age) or uncovering the ratio of just-browsing customers to purchasing customers on particular days or at particular times.
How do I find the right tool?
After you have decided what you would like to achieve you can begin to look into the different kinds of tools available. There are a lot of different providers selling seemingly similar products, however make sure that you do your research for each one.
Have they worked with similar businesses to yours before?
Have they helped businesses in a similar way to what you’re looking for?
For any small business looking for big data analytics tools make sure that the company ticks these boxes to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible:
· Flexible – providers that work with small businesses understand that they need flexibility and choice, to use only the services that they need when they need it. They should not be forcing you to replace a capability that your business is already satisfied with or offering you a ‘one-size-fits-all’ package. The best tools adapt to your business, your business shouldn’t adapt to the tool.
· Simplicity – a small business does not have extensive time and money to invest into big data, therefore your tool needs to be simple and enable you to start using it effectively within days or weeks, not months or years. Simple tools enable users, regardless of their technical skill, to use the service themselves as and when they need to. It should not require technical knowledge as this would be better implemented in a large, corporate enterprise.
· Cost – research a lot of different providers and see how easily their services are to manage on a tight budget. Good tools will be easy to scale to the changing needs of your business, usually on a pay-as-you-go or subscription models so that you only pay for what you need.