Big Data for Small Business: What to Look At and How to Use It By Melissa Burns

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Using big data for small business can help the company in question rapidly become larger and more successful. Information is everything in the digital world of today. It’s obvious from the fact that US economy alone loses $3.1 trillion a year because of poor data management. It’s also estimated that an average business loses up to 35% of revenue because of bad data.

These numbers show that big data has tremendous potential for businesses. It’s especially so for small-to-medium businesses that must get every possible inch of competitive advantage to attract customers. Luckily, small business executives understand this, and they are 10% more likely to consider data the source of this advantage. Their main problem is the complexity of data analysis. This process is extremely difficult and requires specialized skills. As small and medium businesses cannot employ a specialized analyst, they must find other solutions. Using specialized software can provide an alternative for these companies.

Where to Find Big Data for Small Business

The good news is that there are numerous sources of big data a business can use. Many of them are free or very affordable.

  • Customer surveys.
    Customer surveys were, are, and will remain relevant for a long time to come. They provide you a clear look at the real consumer’s interests. Unlike customer behavior analysis, surveys give you a chance to ask what people want. Today you can design and launch your own surveys fast using tools like SurveyMonkey.
  • Government databases.
    Some governments make a huge favor to businesses and offer a variety of their data available for free. For example, the US Government’s open data source offers research and reports on any topic ranging from agriculture to public safety. The European Union also has Open Data Portal that any business owner or even a student can use. Government databases are valuable because they are huge and offer the ‘clearest’ picture of social and economic state development.
  • Public data portals.
    Did you know that Facebook has over 30 Petabytes of data? A lot of it is private, but some are not and analyzing that information can give you the best insight into consumers. Google has almost 4.5 billion searches a day. Analyzing that data can give a small business even more of a boost. Luckily, you can have access to both through Google Public data explorer and Facebook API Graph. You can also look for other public portals that offer big data for small business based on your industry.
  • Research centers.
    A variety of organizations either perform researches and surveys or outsource them and then publish third-party material. Either way, a small business can benefit greatly from this data because it’s usually more niche-focused. One portal you should definitely try is the Pew Research Center.

How to Analyze Big Data for Small Business

When used wisely, big data analysis can help your business:

  • Identify and target customers more efficiently
  • Boost customer loyalty
  • Increase conversions
  • Develop better marketing strategies
  • Improve inventory management by predicting sales

To achieve all this and more, you’ll need to collect and manage data efficiently. When dealing with big data from various public sources (government reports, Facebook databases, etc.) all you can do is to go through them yourself. You simply study reports, learn the relevant numbers, and think how to use them in your business.

However, there is also more ‘hands on’ data, like customer behavior analysis based on their actions on your website. Small businesses need this as well because these trends show the areas that perform well and those that need improvement.

You can collect and analyze this data using specialized software. Custom application development can ensure that the program collects and processes the exact type of data you need. This will give you an extra advantage compared to generic data analysis solutions, like InsightSquared, that target ‘the average business.’

Using a custom app will also give you the advantage of full automation. This means that you can set it up to include data from all your other analysis tools, like Google Analytics. This will save a lot of work to your employees and boost the overall business efficiency.

Integrate your data with existing software you are using, like CRM or project management software. Do not miss out the details of your client’s information, like social network profile. That will let you get primary statistical data helping with marketing and CRM activities.

Use Big Data for Boosting Small Business Fast

The most important benefit of using big data for small business is that it can help you make better decisions. Supported by hard data instead of ‘gut feeling’ your predictions will be more accurate. Therefore, you’ll be able to provide a higher quality of products/services to your clients.

You also shouldn’t forget about essential things, like determining your prices and wages based on financial reports analysis. There is big data that can help understanding every aspect of any business, and ‘smaller’ data that is immediately relevant to you. To succeed, you need to measure and process both types. Look at past trends to predict the future, but don’t forget to consider global reports to consider how these trends will affect the market.

via Technology & Innovation Articles on Business 2 Community http://ift.tt/2vvYBJP

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