By now, you have probably heard a lot about “big data.” But you may have thought that utilizing these complex sets of information would exclusively be the territory of large corporations with even larger budgets. After all, what is a small-business owner to do with such a vast variety of information?
Well, big data is not just for big business anymore. Small-business owners can take advantage of the edge that big data offers, as well. But, what exactly is big data, and how can small businesses use it to their advantage?
What Is Big Data?
Big data is the practice of using huge sets of information to gain a better understanding of products, consumers, or employees. This data can be collected at the point of sale, from internal company records such as accounting information and labor metrics, or online via social networks. Big data is characterized by:
- Volume (there is a lot of it)
- Variety (many types of data can be useful to businesses)
- Velocity (these days, data comes in quickly)
Practical Applications for Small Businesses
Let’s say you own a small clothing boutique. You do your best to remember all of your customers’ sizes, styles, and favorite colors, but keeping all of that information memorized is quite difficult. Some of your standout customers are easy to remember, but you are certain that some of them fall through the cracks.
Of course, you want to give all of your clients a memorable, personalized experience that will keep them coming back. Big data can help you deliver that experience to your clients.
And while your small business is finally supporting itself well enough to justify drawing a meager salary for yourself, you would certainly like to increase your sales volume. Big data can help on that front, as well.
Technology Gives You the Edge
By using free tools such as Google Analytics, small-business owners can see how their marketing is working, rather than simply blindly paying for advertising. They can also tell how many of their website’s visitors are using mobile browsers, where they are browsing from, and what language they speak.
By utilizing big data, small-business owners can glean important information about their clients. The trail of information left by social media posts, credit cards, and web use can reveal valuable data about individual clients so their experiences can be tailored to their preferences.