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March 19, 2015

Big Data For The Small Business


Big data sphere and human hand holding it.

Big Data For The Small Business

There can be no doubts any longer that big data is here. Whereas once – perhaps only a couple of years ago – the term was generally perceived to be nothing more than a new buzzword that would soon enough fade away almost as quietly as it had arisen, it has in fact stood the test of time and is now everywhere we look.

No. Big data is here to stay, and it’s getting bigger – indeed that’s the very nature of the beast. And, what is more, it’s a big deal.

Big data is already changing all manner of industries – from finance to security to marketing to telecommunications to healthcare. Big data is everywhere, and it’s getting bigger all the time.

Importantly, though, as time has moved on, big data is becoming less and less of a tool that is just the reserve of the big corporation, and more and more as something that can be used by large and small organisations alike. And it’s all down to the open source technology that has become increasingly available.

But, before we get into that, let’s try and answer the biggest question of all…

What Is Big Data?

Well, the answer to that is actually quite simple – lots of data. Loads of it, in fact. Reams and reams and reams of it.

But, what constitutes as data?

Practically anything, frankly. If you think about how we live our lives online today – as we use social media to chat to friends and arrange parties, visit dating sites and form relationships, order takeaways and groceries to be delivered at our front door, listen to music, the radio, watch TV and films, shop for business and consumer goods, visit websites, make appointments, send emails… and on and on it goes – all of these activities leave a digital footprint or data trail in their wake. To put it another way – lots and lots and lots and lots of footprints. Or reams and reams and reams of data – or big data, for short.

Big data refers to everything that we do online – and everything that we do offline as well for that matter, so long as it can be recorded.

How Is Big Data Used?

Well, since you’re a business, let’s focus on how big data gets used for business purposes.

One of the main uses for big data in the business world is for marketing and for making market predictions. Ad-targeting is a prevalent use of big data, which you probably will have noticed at some point in some form or another. For example – you know those adverts that pop up on your Facebook? That’s big data at work.

It’s used by data scientists to gain a better understanding of our browsing and spending habits online, so that ads can be targeted more specifically to particular users who it is deemed are more likely to take an interest in a certain product or service. The idea is that predictive models can be created to help increase sales.

Shortage Of Big Data Professionals

Let’s face facts here – big data is bigger than big. It’s massive. Humongous. According to IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every single day. As such, you can probably imagine that as yet there just simply isn’t the technology or the manpower to process and make sense of it all.

In fact, in the US alone, we are looking at a skills shortage of between 140,000 and 190,000 big data professionals – so, if you fancy a career change, big data is hiring in a big way.

Big Data For The Small Business

You may think that your business might be too small to worry about big data. And, while it may be true that you’ve been ticking along quite happily without it over the past few years, the fact of the matter is that more and more SMEs are jumping on board the big data train, which means that they will be gaining a competitive advantage unless you do also.

However, be that as it may, the likelihood is that big data, by its very nature, will involve data sets that are simply too large and complex for you to manage in house with your existing IT systems.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t also find ways to utilize it in order that you may make better business decisions the same as everyone else – you just might need to turn to managed services to help you.

Let’s take a quick look at 3 ways in which small businesses can use big data.

1. Google Analytics

These days, there is no longer an actual need for you to go out and start purchasing complex and expensive software in order for you to be able to start gathering data. If you start with something that you’ve already got – and I’m talking about your website – then you can begin to make some serous moves straight away.

Google Analytics is the free web-traffic monitoring tool provided by the biggest search engine out there – Google. It’s simple to use, and you can head over to the site right now and start playing with its features so you start monitoring all sorts of data about your website’s visitors through the use of a plethora of traffic sources and metrics.

You will be able to extract sets of long-term data that will reveal to you important trends, which will help you to make better informed business decisions going forward.

You will be able to analyse social media traffic, bounce rates, and visits that are made from mobile devices – and the data from all of this and more will help you start to tailor your various marketing campaigns for the future.

2. Canopy Labs

The ability to predict the future is a super power that every business owner wishes they had. And with Canopy Labs you can do just that.

Canopy Labs is a customer analytics platform that analyses customer behaviour and sales trends to create predictive behavioural models that can be used to tailor your future marketing campaigns.

One of the best features of Canopy Labs is the 360-degree Customer View. This provides excellent, comprehensive data about each of your individual customers. It does two things. Firstly it provides detailed information on a customer’s lifetime value – that is, their loyalty and engagement level, purchase histories, email behaviours etc. – and this information is used to reveal just how profitable each customer is, and whether they’re worth targeting in the future. Secondly, the information that is garnered will help you create more tailored personalized offers, keep track of responses and engagement so you can improve your marketing campaigns.

And the good news is that it’s a free service for companies with up to 5,000 customers – any more than that will cost you $250 a month.

3. Tranzlogic

Tranzlogic makes customer credit card data available to small businesses – information that was once limited to big companies with big budgets.

Tranzlogic works with payment systems and merchants to analyse and extract proprietary data from credit card purchases – and this sort of info is invaluable to your business. It can be used to improve loyalty programs, make your marketing campaigns more effective, measure sales performance, improve your business model, and evaluate customers individually and in segments.

Put simply, Tranzlogic analyses payments data to help you make better business decisions.

Is your company thinking about moving into the realms of big data? Contact us at V&C Solutions to see how we can help you make the right big data moves for your small business.