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How Big Data Can Help Your Small Business

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By Barbara Beauregard   |    May 1, 2017   |    9:49 AM


Grow Your Small Business with Big Data

Many small businesses are wary of big data. Having large amounts of metrics to analyze can feel downright overwhelming when you have plenty of other projects on your to-do list.

But, while big data can seem overwhelming, it’s also massively valuable for your business. Here’s what you need to know to get started with your own data gathering.

What is big data?

Every day, your business likely produces a massive amount of customer data. All you have to do is collect and analyze it. (Which is much easier said than done.)

According to Intuit, “The amount of data being produced is massive, and it’s no longer the kind of information that we’re used to processing. In 2000, 800,000 petabytes (that’s 1 quadrillion bytes) of data were stored worldwide. By 2020, 35 zettabytes (35 sextillion bytes) will reside on computer servers around the globe.”

As Intuit points out later in their article, making sense of this data is no small task. Most small businesses don’t have systems in place to analyze all of the raw data they collect.

Why your small business needs big data

Your small business needs big data, but don’t just take our word for it. Harvard helped conduct research that showed, “ … not only that small businesses benefited from the precision offered by customer data, but also that exposure to data encouraged owner-managers to share insights with employees and get them involved in companies’ competitive thinking.”

Big data helps you track things like consumer lifestyles, demographics, purchasing behavior, loyalty-card programs, and more. These insights will help you do things like plan more effective marketing initiatives. Big data can even help you determine which new products and services will have the best performance in your market… and these two examples are just the beginning.

Getting started with big data

There are a number of relatively simple ways your own small business can get started with the big data revolution. To begin, learn how to use one or more of these systems:

  • Google Analytics. Every modern business needs an online presence, and every online presence needs the data from Google Analytics. Once you’ve mastered the basics, give one of these more advanced features a try.

  • Excel. Yes, good old fashioned Excel is a great data analysis tool if you know how to use it effectively.

  • Your CRM. If you actively use a CRM tool like Salesforce, you’re sitting on an absolute treasure chest of customer data.

  • Social media data. Data from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms should also be analyzed. If you have a Facebook page start with Facebook Insights — you’ll learn a lot about how your followers interact with your business.

  • Business intelligence tools. You can also download a number of business intelligence tools, and many of them easily integrate with other systems you might be using, like Salesforce or Excel.

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