Big Data for small businesses
1 November 2015
The field of Big Data has been gathering speed in recent years. This field handles comprehensive data analysis (gigabyte, terabyte, and even more) intended to product insights regarding trends and optimization processes in the organization and is usually implementable in large organizations. For more on Big Data, click here.
One might ask: should small/medium-sized businesses (SMB), which harbor a smaller amount of data make use of Big Data services? The answer is: yes.
First, let's review what are the reasons that SMBs should use Business Intelligence tools:
A report from 2014 by Dresner Advisory Services showed that the main reason for small businesses to use BI is better decision-making abilities. Other reasons include: profit increase, attaining a competitive edge, increasing operative efficiency and improving customer service.
Nowadays, many small businesses analyze their data via Excel sheets. This method may be extremely slow and the results it produces may not be the results these businesses wished to reach.
How to implement Big Data in SMBs:
Even if the business doesn't have much information on its customers, there are data sources to which the SMB can connect. The business can connect to more general data on customers' preferences in its field by different demographic sectors. Furthermore, if a number of small businesses merge their databases into one it will produce more exact data. In some cases, small data can produce equally useful insights.
For example, if a small business in the field of tourism perform a trend analysis on its data (or general data of its respective branch) it can point to weaker sales periods and accordingly increase sales or advertise appropriate sales. Or if a business has a website with a lot of customer traffic, website-monitoring technology (e.g. Google Analytics) and attempt to produce insights from the received data.
Insights from social networks:
The social network includes a vast amount of data and information. Potential customers share data that may assist businesses in focusing their suggestions better; this data is shared on a daily basis. However, this data's disadvantage is that is scattered and unstructured. Nowadays, software such as HootSuite and Brandwatch enable analyzing data and identify trends and in turn make it applicable.
Improving products/services provided by the business:
Some businesses collect data on the manner in which clients use services/products. This is data from which businesses can learn of clients' various needs and desires. Whether it's a product or a service, the business should review what more it can offer its customers, be it a complementary product for which customers can pay or some sort of perk for current customers.
The fact that a large amount of data can be stored on a cloud for a relatively cheap price or purchase data vessels allows SMBs to store their various data related to business conduct.
Large companies such as SAS and IBM as well as smaller companies such as InsightSquare and Qualtrics provide tools adapted to SMBs. Using BI tools provides businesses with a competitive edge especially if these businesses target a wide audience over time.
When a SMB plans to purchase BI tools, it is better to first try more available tools (such as website-traffic and social networks monitoring tools) to better understand what types of insights should be attained. Furthermore, it must review the business's needs in order optimally to adapt the BI tools to the organization.