With 2014 right around the corner, many small business owners are turning their attentions to the ways in which they will help their companies grow in the coming year, and some experts now believe that the best way to do this might be through tapping a potentially massive resource known as Big Data.
The fact of the matter is that while many large companies utilize this type of resource regularly, and for a number of reasons, many of their smaller competitors have largely not gotten involved in culling customer data for any patterns that may help them to increase the success they see in the coming year as the economy improves, according to a report from Constant Contact. In particular, this type of information may be critical for helping companies to better handle their use of mobile or social networking platforms as a way of reaching consumers.
Of course, the ways in which companies will be able to use Big Data will vary based on their needs, but in general, with more companies now offering this kind of information, the ease of accessing it and being able to create meaningful strategies as a result is likely to be there going forward, the report said. Moreover, though, a focus on the kind of areas that this information will likely be able to help with is probably wise because of consumers' changing expectations for their interactions or relationships with companies large and small. Therefore, to compete with better-known names in their industries, independent enterprises will need to adapt and try to keep pace in this regard.
"2014 is the year the mobile commerce becomes standard for small businesses," said Andy Miller, director of innovation at Constant Contact. "Small businesses will need to react quickly to the shift in consumer expectations, as consumers will demand mobile POS and payments in droves from businesses large and small. The good news for small businesses is that the technology driving mobile POS has come a long way in the past few years, and 'going mobile' with POS is not a behemoth task to accomplish."
Where social media fits in
Using Facebook and Twitter in particular – and LinkedIn to a lesser extent – is often seen as one of the very best ways for small businesses to keep close tabs on what consumers want from them, and that can therefore inform decisions about the ways companies must move forward, the report said. However, the kind of knowledge that can come from keeping tabs on Big Data might be used to make other social media moves, such as getting more involved with platforms a company had previously ignored.
While Facebook and Twitter are pretty much catchalls on a demographic basis, people of all ages and backgrounds use them en masse. But other such outlets are more pigeonholed. For instance, LinkedIn tends to be favored by professional types, and thus has a more affluent user base. Meanwhile, Pinterest, which is very quickly gaining ground in this arena, is used by a younger audience overall, and the average user is far more often female. Therefore, keeping in mind the kind of people who regularly patronize a small business may help to reveal areas where companies can branch out and potentially do more to reach the kind of people who would be most interested in their products or services.
Owners worried about the cost of getting involved with Big Data might be able to help themselves free up some money from their thin margins by finding more affordable small business insurance. Cutting costs for liability insurance alone may help companies save as much as thousands of dollars per year.