Is Big Data Too Much For Small Businesses?

Justin Narayan
Jun 14, 2014

The term big data can be intimidating to businesses of all sizes, especially for small businesses. It's no secret that many small businesses just don't have the time or resources to analyze massive amounts of data. Some businesses may feel they are too small for big data or may feel like big data won't be helpful to their business. But what really is big data and how can small businesses use it to their advantage? Big data is a variety things like social media updates, pictures and videos, credit card purchase records, cellphone GPS signals, click streams, log files, audio files, and sensor data, just to name a few. Any time a person tweets or makes an online purchase, he or she is creating a data point. Approximately 90% of the data in the world has been created just in the past few years and it's getting bigger as the number of online users continue to increase. For a small business it's extremely important to capture data that is relevant specifically to its business so it can be used to grow and/or improve the business, rather than trying to capture as much data as possible.

For instance, focusing only on information that can improve customer service or business operations allows the company to use their limited resources on improving the core parts of their business. Most small businesses today have a website, a Facebook page, Twitter account, and other social media accounts. They also have email addresses from newsletter subscribers, existing customers, and potential customers. Most businesses sit on that data and do nothing with it. All that data can be analyzed to gain information on how to improve service to loyal customers and to target new ones. Even small businesses who do not use or do not have a huge social media following can benefit from data reports from similar companies who do have a large social media following. Those data reports provide businesses a golden opportunity to capture trends and information about customer's needs and wants, as well as information to start a customer relationship management (CRM) program. It's shocking that less than 30% of small businesses actually use a CRM systems to keep track of interactions with customers. CRM programs provide an easy way to gain data about your customers and can improve business operations. A cost efficient way to start collecting data is by simply capturing customer email addresses and sending out emails, whether it's about a promotion or a customer survey. This is a quick way to get information directly from customers to find out what they want or expect. As mentioned before, the primary focus of data for small businesses should be capturing data that matters specifically to the business, whether it's for business operation or customer information.

Although the idea of analyzing data can be intimidating to already stressed-out small business owners, small business owners need to approach the data in chunks. Breaking up the data up makes it a lot easier to handle the data. Data can be broken up by the following categories: what happens when the customer is browsing the website, when he or she adds an item to shopping cart, at the point of purchase, and what happens after the sale is complete. By breaking up these processes, it becomes easier for a small business to analyze customer behavior at every point in the sale. This enables the business to send targeted advertisements and relevant promotions to the customer. Big data may provide more information than a small business actually needs, but when it's broken down into pieces, it gives businesses the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the data in new ways to grow and improve their business.

Big Data Star Trek Meme - It's Not The Size of Your Data That Matters, It's How You Use It

Do you think big data provides too much information for small businesses?

Post By: Justin Narayan