How Can Small Businesses Harness Big Data?

These days, many small business owners across the country may know all too well how cutthroat the competition in their industries can be, and may be looking for any edge they can find as a means of increasing their success. One area in which they may not have considered getting such an edge yet is in the emerging sector known as “Big Data.”

Today, IBM estimates that about 2.27 million terabytes of new data is put online to the internet every day, and about 90 percent of all such information has been created within the last two years, according to a report from Small Business Trends. That, in turn, can create a massive opportunity for small businesses to find out more about their industries and the people who rely on them in some way. Already, many of the nation’s larger companies have invested heavily in finding out as much as they possibly can about their markets and potential customers, which in turn could help to determine a lot about how they should approach marketing to those people.

Of course, the concept of big data can be daunting for many owners who do not know much about it, but in fact they may already know more than they think about the opportunities the industry can present, the report said. For instance, many of the services Google offers, including Analytics and Adwords, rely on big data; the former shows companies a lot of information about how and why people are finding and using their websites, which in turn could help to inform future decisions about the way this extension of their enterprises are handled. The latter, meanwhile, uses consumers’ browsing habits to formulate recommendations about potential other sites that could be of interest, through banner advertisements. These tools are often available at low or no cost, and could therefore be a great way for owners to get their feet wet without a big investment, and see if they like what it can provide for their businesses.

What can big data provide for companies?
One of the biggest ways in which small businesses can differentiate themselves from their larger competitors is by giving greater and more personal customer service to their patrons, and many experts point out that despite the impersonal-sounding name, big data can actually be used to further those efforts, the report said. For example, this kind of information can be used to create marketing strategies that can be better tailored to people more likely to buy the kinds of products or services each individual small business offers. This may help the targeted consumers to feel more as though the company understands their unique needs or wants as it relates to what a small business can provide them.

However, it’s important that businesses also take the time to figure out which tools will work best for them, because given the wide breadth of options available that allow users to do all kinds of things with big data, there’s a lot to cull through, the report said. Some of these programs can help a company that specializes in professional services more than manufacturing, for example, while another might work in the opposite way. Doing a bit of research into all such options may go a long way to helping owners find the best utilities available to them.

Owners who want to invest in big data will obviously have some choices to make, but if they want to free up some cash to do so, finding more affordable small business insurance might be a big help. Cutting costs for workers’ compensation or liability insurance coverage can free up a substantial amount of money over the course of the year.