How big data can boost small business » SMEInsider

How big data can boost small business

Big data isn’t just a buzzword, it’s an essential resource for any business that wants to grow and thrive in a competitive market. Plus, new technology is making it easier and easier for smaller companies to reap the benefits.

If you’re still wondering exactly what it’s all about, big data essentially means bringing together information collected from thousands or millions of customers, transactions or any other business function to spot trends and behaviours. The trick, then, is to work out how to use this information to make sense of what’s happening in your own company and develop a more effective business or sales strategy.

For global conglomerates with a huge customer base, collecting this data can often be done in-house. This has typically put smaller companies at a disadvantage – but now, many technology companies are clamouring to fill this gap in the market by providing their big data to SMEs that could benefit.

Among the best known names in this area are IBM, SAS and Microsoft, while MasterCard has also begun analysing data from billions of global transactions to give a nuanced view of what customers buy, when and how. Startups that are challenging the dominance of these behemoths include Kaggle and Tranzlogic.

Typically, these companies adopt user-friendly tools and technologies that can cross-reference an SME’s database with big data mines, collected from things like mobile phone data, government databases, social networks and many other industry-specific sources. These allow smaller businesses to “crunch” and analyse the data through the lens of their own activities and markets, making it more comprehensible.

Types of data that can be cross-referenced include web traffic, sales and pricing, and the findings can be used to identify patterns in advance in order to anticipate client needs as well as figuring out how to market your products and time your launches for maximum impact. It can also be useful in spotting internal problems, for example the processes that slow your team down or inhibit communication with clients or customers, giving you the nudge you need to improve.

Need some inspiration to get you started? Take a look at the infographic below.

Next article: Is it time to update your business plan?