Data is everywhere. Mobile phones collect data of your location through GPS, every time you use the internet; you leave a trail of data and history. When you buy something on your credit card or collect points on a store card, data is created and stored. The systems for capturing, collating, storing and analysing data are becoming better and faster. There hasn’t been a sudden revolution in the quantity of data collated but more the revolution in what you can do with it. Big data has always been present and is simply a collection of data from both traditional and digital sources; inside and outside your company that represents a source for on-going discovery and analysis.
In marketing, examples of well-known uses of data is the “recommended products section” where recommendations are made based on your purchases or on items you’ve looked at in the past. Do you notice when you’ve shopped online for a holiday for an example, a lot of adverts relating to those holidays will appear at the side of the web browser? This is due to data that has been collected and analysed. All this analysis has come to the conclusion that you may be looking for a holiday so suggests travel companies for you that have paid to appear on your screen.
Although it’s named big data, this doesn’t mean its use is limited to big corporations. Just because you have a smaller budget and fewer employees, the advancement and ease of Internet access enabled technologies no longer equates to you having less access to this information. This is why in the past few years; big data has filtered down from large companies to SMEs. Just like your larger counterparts, you can use big data to better understand your customers, tap into new markets and cut out unnecessary costs all with evidence to support your decisions.
The questions SMEs need to answer are what data do you own? What data can you access from others? How will you create, collate and analyse these data sets and how will it generate value and revenue for your business? Although as a smaller company, you’ll typically have fewer resources than a large corporation, you have the advantage of a more flexible infrastructure therefore less lead time to implement procedures and practices making you more efficient.
You’ll more than likely need to incorporate external data and systems potentially with your own to uncover new insights. Collecting and analysing the data by yourself would be too costly and external data providers will have a vaster variety of information all readily analysed for your needs. Inevitably, making the most of the opportunities that big data presents will be challenging for any business especially SMEs who have less resource and time. However if your business can step up to this challenge by implementing new skills, tools and processes then you’ll more than likely gain yourself a commercial advantage.
There are many ways SMEs can make use of data. It could be buying targeted customer data sets to have a higher success rate for your sales agents. Hiring a digital agency to help you with your re-marketing so when customers search for items similar to your company, you can appear on the side of their screen. It could be as simple as feeding all your customers information into a CRM system to better understand your target audience.
So if you’re a new start-up, you need to think about how you’ll incorporate data into your business strategy. If you’re an established SME but haven’t thought about these issues yet then you need to jump on the big data bandwagon and not risk getting left behind.