Thanks to its name and all the hype around Big Data, it gives a sense that Big Data is meant for big companies with huge amount of data. It is generally believed that Big Data has nothing to do with small businesses that generate small chunks of data. True, Big data is changing the game for a lot of big businesses, but as an SMB owner, have you looked at how it can impact your business? Read on to find out how Big Data can work for ‘big enough’ data for Small-Medium Business. The answer might surprise you…
The One Minute ‘You need big data or not’ Test:
Here’s a quick test for you to figure out if your business can benefit from Big Data Analytcs:
- Does your business use computers to store business data?
- Do you exchange information with your partners, customers or employees using electronic media like documents, emails, etc?
- Do your employees, users or customers talk about your products or services on social media?
If you are running a Small to Medium business in 2014, the chances of you answering yes to all the above questions are quite high. If you have answered yes to the above questions then you will be happy to know that your business can definitely put big data to use to benefit your business.
Since most of the transactions, communications and information in general is exchanged in electronic form these days, a typical business generates more data containing hidden patterns and insights about your business than you know. IBM estimates that we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day and that 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last 2 years. If you consider all the transactions, documents and emails that your business generates, you will realize that even as a small business, you generate ‘big enough’ data every day.
The ‘Big Enough’ Data
If you agree that your business generates ‘big enough’ data then lets talk about why it is important to analyze this data. Over the last decade, customer experience has evolved as a cornerstone of managing enduring customer relationships. Sure, quality still matters and people still look for reasonable prices but the businesses that offer the best experience to its customers increasingly win more business. Don’t believe me? Count the name of 5 companies that you admire the most and think about what separates them from their competition.
In order to offer a differentiated experience, small businesses need a deeper understanding of their customers—just like their larger counterparts do. The ‘big enough’ data contains the insights that can help them understand what matters most to their customers. It can form the basis of their strategy for offering a superior experience for their customers.
Here’s an Example:
Let’s take an example of a small cafe chain that runs a few of stores in California. Now, let’s say it serves roughly 30 orders in an hour, averaging about 300 orders per store per day. That’s 9000 orders per month per store and for a five to ten store chain, it is 45,000 to 90,000 orders per month. In a year, this business could generate data for close to a million orders. Combine that with the customer opinions on Yelp and FourSquare and you have ‘big enough’ data to extract insights such as:
- Which are the items that customers buy together?
- What is it that the customers love about each stores?
- What are the chances that a customer who bought X will also buy Y?
- If the chain were to introduce two new beverages – one chocolate based hot beverage and another fruity, cold one – which stores would be ideal to launch them?
- What do your customers like about your competition compared to you?
These insights and more that can come out of analyzing ‘big enough’ data can help businesses better serve their customers and grow their business. They can also be used to better serve their loyal customers and target new ones.
Big Data Analytics for Small/Medium Business
The advancements in new technologies for mining huge volume of data has created a new standard for interacting with customers, and they’ve leveled the customer service playing field in the process. At the same time, they have made these solutions affordable enough to make sense for small-medium businesses.
If your business decides to embrace big data, it would not mean making a huge commitment to a service provider—contractually or financially. You can start by iddentifying one important area—sales, finances, website performance, customer performance, etc. and start a data analytics project for insights. I am sure you will see that it does not take a lot to turn ‘big enough’ data into ‘big enough’ opportunities to make your business better.