Everyone is talking about big data and how it can be used to transform businesses, but there’s a question mark over its relevance and value in the SME sector.
After all, is it really possible for small and medium sized businesses to harness the benefits of big data without the same budgets and IT resources that large corporations possess?
The short answer is yes, but the real questions is how? With 5.2 million small businesses in the UK, it’s vital that big data is utilised as a key tool for strategic decisions that are based on real information rather than gut instinct.
We’ve found that a large number of small business owners believe that big data isn’t relevant to them and don’t understand how it can be applied to their business. One of the biggest perceived barriers is that they don’t possess the time or resources to really make big data work for them.
Five reasons why big data isn’t just for large corporations and how small companies can harness its power for their business from day one.
1. You Don’t Need Top Tech
When people mention big data there’s an assumption that harnessing it requires expensive or complicated systems for managing complex databases. In reality, businesses can start tapping into big data right now by simply gathering, analysing and making sense of the data they already have and using the tools at their disposal. Businesses can get started if they have a good working knowledge of Excel and using pivot tables as well as possessing the time to spend examining information. Start with the basics and identify gaps before investing in a bespoke system.
Also, remember that a reputable strategic services partner will work with a business to create a system to suit its size so you should never have to pay for more than you need.
2. Remember, It’s Your Data
A huge component in the big data puzzle is a company’s own information, which needs to be gathered from all of the various places it might be stored; whether that’s historic paper files, through a customer CRM system or via Google Analytics, it’s all data you already have. The size of a business doesn’t make a difference, the information is yours to own. The only limitation for a small company is the resources available to spend time accessing and analysing this information. Only when businesses have a firm grip on their internal data should they spread the net further afield to examine demographics and market trends.
3. It’s Available to Everyone
The good news is that big data is becoming more accessible every single day thanks to the ever-expanding internet. Businesses can look at investment in open-source software solutions and inexpensive analytics in order to access and organise big data. Also, information on everything from demographics to weather and consumer spending habits are freely available online as long as you know where to look. Plus, there are some very basic tools that allow businesses to make sense of their data that are free and simple to use.
Even built systems will provide the tools for you to own your own data, so you should never be reliant on a third party to tell you about your business.
4. Same Difference
When it comes to using big data in small businesses, there’s no real difference between them and large corps. All you need to know is the problem you’re trying to solve. Our experience has shown that smaller businesses can be at a distinct advantage in that they’re likely to be looking at a smaller pool of queries and can therefore focus on specific problems. Also, the time a business has been in operation isn’t necessarily applicable. As long as a company has been operating for a year or more, they are likely to have a lot of big data sitting in their company records. Any kind of sales ledger can provide an excellent set of statistics that can be cross-referenced with other information in their arsenal.
5. More Agile
It’s said that harnessing big data is actually more suited to small businesses in a lot of ways because they possess the agility to act quickly and make the relevant changes with the efficiency that a large corporation wouldn’t be able to do.
Big data doesn’t need to be a daunting prospect; it’s actually as simple as finding out the problems that need to be solved by the business and identifying the best way to solve them. No matter the size, if a business doesn’t have a good sense of the questions that will yield value for their business, then big data will not be able to provide the solutions. The best way to start is to find a problem that needs to be solved and then get the tools to solve it, not the other way around.