Big Data for Small Business: A Complete Guide

Big data is not too big for small businesses. In fact, it’s needed to reveal hidden patterns, market trends, customer preferences, and other meaningful insights. With big data, small businesses can make the smart decisions they need to make to get ahead of their competition and increase their profitability.

What is “big data for small business”?

Many small businesses believe they are too small for big data. This is far from the truth as small businesses need big data to succeed, just as much as larger corporations. Data provides businesses with actionable insights needed to become more efficient and profitable.

Fortunately, there are big data tools and solutions on the market that small businesses with tighter budgets and a smaller workforce can comfortably afford and manage. Some of these tools track and analyze the behavior of website users. Others can help monitor and mine customer calls and reveal inbound calling trends, caller demographics, and common call problems. The good news is these tools often do not require a highly technical team or a great deal of cash to use big data to their advantage.

How big data benefits small business

The importance and value of big data should not be overlooked by a business of any size. Big data:

  • Reduces overall costs
  • Increases sales and revenue
  • Improves pricing decisions
  • Provides a competitive advantage
  • Increases efficiency in decision-making

Big data reduces overall costs

Efficiency is the key to reducing costs for small businesses. With big data, small businesses can receive the information needed to pinpoint inefficiencies in their operations and consequently, resolve these issues.

For example, data may reveal that customers have no interest in purchasing gift wrapping at checkout. This may cause a small business to remove this offering and stop inventorying gift wrapping supplies — resulting in an operational cost reduction.

Big data increases sales and revenue

Big data allows small businesses to gain significant insight into the beliefs and shopping preferences of their customers. With this information, businesses can understand how to tailor their products and services in order to provide customers with exactly what they want — leading to more sales.

Big data improves pricing decisions

The way a small business prices their products and services can have a significant impact on whether or not they succeed. Data tools can help assess business finances and figure out how an organization’s pricing compares to their competitors. Through data, small businesses can determine if they should raise or lower their prices as well as confirm that prices are right in line with competitors.

Big data provides a competitive advantage

Big data opens up the opportunity for small businesses to focus on the preferences of local customers. Data tools take the guesswork out of zooming into the local market, and provide insight on buying behaviors. Once small businesses have a solid idea of how their customers think and what they like and dislike, they’ll be able to add a personal touch and enjoy a competitive advantage.

Data tools sort through the digital activities of customers — eliminating much of the manual work required from small businesses.

Big data increases efficiency in decision-making

Social media and big data have joined together to create the process and need for social media mining, which is like data mining but confined to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms. Social media mining refers to gathering and analyzing data about social media users to draw conclusions about buying behavior, interests, reactions to deals and promotions, and more. These conclusions can assist with the creation of targeted marketing campaigns for particular marketing segments.

Data processes and tools can help a small business mine their social media platforms. They eliminate the need for a small business with limited resources to manually go through various social media platforms, leading to more efficient strategic marketing decisions.

Big data analytics for small business

Big data analytics is the process of examining large and varied data sets or big data to divulge valuable information that can help small businesses make informed decisions. With big data analytics, small businesses can evaluate customer loyalty and retention. Information on these data points can uncover certain buying behaviors which may help maintain the current clientele and increase overall purchases.

In addition, big data analytics are used to identify customer value and acquisition costs. This is vital as not all customers are created equal and some of them may not be worth the time and money to pursue. This metric ties into cost of customer acquisition — or how much time and money is spent landing each customer — and whether they are worth it. A very important data point for small businesses with a low sales budget or small salesforce.

Big data tools for small business

With the number of benefits big data and analytics provide, it’s essential for small businesses to find a data tool that is advantageous to their needs. A few examples of easy-to-use and affordable tools include:

Data integration tools

Most small businesses have data in multiple places. Data integration tools can connect each data source and allow businesses to access and transform all datasets one convenient location. Data sources may include CRM systems, marketing operations software, web traffic, sales systems, and a variety of other sources.

Data preparation tools

The reality is that many small businesses spend more of their time cleaning data rather than analyzing it. Data preparation tools can flip this around and allow businesses to focus on analytics instead of preparation. With these tools, business users don’t have to worry about reformatting data, correcting it, and combining data sets.

Data quality tools

Since not all data is high quality, data quality tools are invaluable. They can perform deduplication, validation, and standardization to ensure that the data small businesses have is accurate, complete, and consistent. Most importantly, these tools provide relevant and reliable insights.

Data governance tools

The process and management of the availability, usability, integrity, and security of data is known as data governance. It helps improve data quality and the understanding of data. Data governance tools allow small businesses to quickly realize the value of their data.

How to get started with big data for your small business

With big data tools, it’s easy for small businesses to use big data to meet (or even exceed) their goals. Those who aren’t currently using big data tools, need to get started as soon as possible. Here’s how you can do so.

Perform research

Not all big data tools are created equal. Therefore, small businesses should take the time to perform research and find out which options are available to them. Make a list of tools that fit your business needs and narrow it down to three or four before proceeding the next step.

Sign up for a free trial or demo

Fortunately, most big data tools offer free trials or demos. Before making a selection, it’s a good idea to schedule a demos or download a free trial of tools in your narrowed down list. This way, you can experience how each tool works firsthand and subsequently determine whether it aligns with your particular needs.

Select a big data tool

Once you have tested out your options, it’s time to make a selection and begin leveraging data in your small business. Remember, it’s important to re-evaluate your big data tool on a regular basis to make sure it’s keeping up with ever-evolving business needs.

The cloud: The future of big data and small business

To cater to the expected increase in data analytics requirements, a small business can add more capacity to its in-house data warehouses or purchase additional servers. However, there’s a good chance that this in-house infrastructure may not be able to keep up. That’s where the cloud comes in.

When big data is hosted on the cloud, the need for data warehouses and dedicated programmers is eliminated. Using the cloud, small businesses can quickly gather data from multiple sources and leave massive servers behind. Additionally, the cloud enables users to compile, analyze, and act on data. For these reasons, storing your data in the cloud is quickly becoming a necessity, rather than a luxury for small businesses.

Big data: The small business secret to success

Big data offers insights and advantages that small businesses need to thrive in today’s increasingly competitive market. Talend’s fully integrated, self-service suite of apps can revolutionize the way a small business operates. Talend Data Fabric seamlessly offers data integration and data integrity services—allowing small businesses to collect, govern, transform, and share data in real-time. 

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