By Allie Philpin
Big data… You hear the term all the time and for SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses), these two words can be quite daunting! Companies of all sizes are generating such large amounts of structured and unstructured data, yet much of it remains untapped and the information that could be gathered from this data has the potential to change your business for the good, not only in helping you understand how your business is working and your business processes, but also improving customer relationships.
It is true that most companies generate far more data than they can (a) handle and (b) analyse. But that doesn’t meant that it is an impossible task, it’s not. Develop a strategic approach to help you ‘discover’ the data that’s going to deliver the most benefit to your company. Decide what you want to achieve and develop the right questions. Analysing your big data isn’t just about doing what everyone else does; your business is individual and your needs will be different to another business’s needs. If you’re a manufacturer, you may want to improve productivity and operational efficiency so you need to analyse your machine data. If you’re a sales company, it’s more likely that you will want to improve your customer relationships.
Your big data comes from a variety of sources; web and mobile apps provide a good source and the data gathered will give you an insight into the way users are visiting your website, for example, and could well lead to you improving your website or even implementing an online service or ecommerce site. In addition, utilise the right tools, you could gather even more valuable data, including the mobile operating system they are using to view your website, the search engine they used to find your business, and their geographical locations.
There is a whole range of products, software solutions, apps and tools that can help you analyse your big data. The drawback for SMBs is that most of these solutions require a level of technical knowledge as they are based on self-service. For an SMB, to use these tools will mean investing in a managed service or using a data consultant in order to structure your data. It also depends on the amount of data your business is generating; the bigger the quantity of data being generated, the potentially more complex the analytical tool you will need.
However, if you have a level of technical knowledge and confidence, then there are a range of excellent tools for SMBs that won’t break the bank! Open source solutions provide a wide range of free tools that are efficient and effective. Alternatively, there are analytical solutions available charged on an affordable monthly basis. Whatever your big data requirements – and it is an area where SMBs can gain a significant advantage over their competitors – by implementing the right tools, you will reap the benefits by using an effective analytic tool.