Big Data for the small business – part 1

Big Data continues to churn away as one of the most formidable technological and market influences of the modern digital era. Companies are collectively spending billions on this phenomenon. In fact, the year 2014 is when Big Data adoption is expected to go mainstream for the enterprise with an average of $8 million invested per company. A few years ago the World Economic Forum declared that data is now an asset – on a par with gold, silver, and precious stones. The implications for businesses of course are profound since all this data provides a goldmine of new 360 degree insights on customers and what they’re saying about the their products, brands, and services.

















And yet there remains a common mis-perception that Big Data is only for large enterprises with big budgets that can afford to invest in data scientists and all the tools and shiny objects to extract the latest insights. The commonly held view is that when the volume, velocity, and variety of your data exceeds your capacity to process, then you have a Big Data problem. The underlying assumption here is that small businesses don’t have a Big data problem because they don’t have enough data to worry about. However, nothing could be further from the truth! As one analyst has well stated, “Big data is a relative term. Every organization has a tipping point, and most organizations – regardless of size – will eventually reach a point where the volume, variety and velocity of their data will be something that they have to address.”


Small businesses indeed can be active participants in the Big Data space, and there are no lack of tools on the market to help them move the needle forward on their strategy plan. Let’s outline some resources that smaller businesses should be looking at to get started on their Big Data plan today.


Google Analytics: This is the most obvious starting point. Downloading Google’s analytics tool into your website will provide your small business with an easy grasp on where your site traffic is coming from, what pages they’re looking at, on what devices, and what the general traffic patterns are looking like. This can be a great introduction to basic web analytics.


Kaggle: Provides a convenient and affordable way for small and medium sized companies to get started with Big Data, especially those that don’t have a lot of tech-savvy employees. Kaggle is a combination of funding platform,  crowd sourcing company, social network, wiki, and job board, which lets anyone post a data project by selecting an industry, type (public or private), participatory level (team or individual), reward amount, and timetable.


Analytics & Sales tools: There are a large number of tools on the market that allow small and medium businesses to mine and analyze their CRM databases (like Salesforce) and get better optics on their sales pipelines. See a sampling of some of these tools here.


Data aggregation: There’s no need to claim the lack of data as an obstacle to harnessing analytics. Data brokers such as Acxiom and DataLogix can provide smaller companies with extremely valuable data at reasonable prices.


















We’ve addressed how small businesses can begin to participate in the Big Data phenomenon and outlined some of the available resources. In Part 2 we’ll shift the focus to strategy guidelines that business leaders can begin implementing today to get the most out of Big Data in the shortest period of time.