Big Data is big business, not just for the enterprise but for the small business as well. And lest you think that it’s just a passing technology fad or else you don’t have enough data to explore, simply consider the enormity of Big Data. Did you know that every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data (1 followed by 18 zeros) are created? Or that 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years alone? This is a massive scale that is only going to continue to increase exponentially, especially as we increasingly approach the age of the Internet of Things.
Big Data is just not an option for the small business. In fact, there are plenty of resources and tools available for smaller players to jump into this exciting market. In this segment we’re going to spell out a few strategies to guide small business leaders as they consider how to begin collecting and analyzing data to glean deeper, richer insights and discoveries.
Launching a Big Data initiative without a proper strategy plan can lead to a big headache. Before you start your project, take a step back and consider the following guidelines to help you see the forest from the trees:
- Formulate your question: Define exactly what question you want to address. What is your business proposition or hypothesis that you want to prove or disprove? Look across the organization at your KPIs and ask stakeholders to weigh in to address where to cut costs and improve revenue. For example, you may start with something as simple as increasing engagements on Facebook? In that case, you’ll want to see what kinds of posts are getting the most likes. How about posts containing images?
- Identify your data: Next you’ll need to figure out what types of data are required to answer your business question. Some basic things you’ll need to explore are the variety and types of data available to address your business question? You will also need to know if there’s enough data and enough history and granularity in the data to support your analysis. For example, if you want to know the best day and time of the week to kickoff your email marketing campaign, then you’ll need to look at your email open rates.
- Kickoff your analysis: Analysis is as much an art as a science. Your approach may be as straightforward as using Google Analytics or at reviewing your email open rate statistics. Or it may involve using any of the growing numbers of predictive analytics tools on the market today. Whatever approach you take the best advice is to start small, gather some results, and scale up. There’s no need to boil the ocean to get what you’re looking for.
- Act on your findings: What action is your analysis driving at? If your data shows more email open rates on Wednesday, then try starting your next few email marketing campaigns on a Wednesday to see if your results match the initial findings. You may find that the actions taken on the data might not work as well the first time around. Just keep trying and don’t give up. And also be sure to get commitment up front from other business stakeholders to ensure that the final results are appropriately applied within the organization.
According to Gartner, “Big data creates a new layer in the economy which is all about information, turning information, or data, into revenue.” Big Data is here to stay and the best response a small business can offer is to start formulating a Big Data strategy plan today. This is the sure-fire way in the 21st century to keep ahead of the competition, glean crucial customer insights, and drive revenue.