You may have heard the phrase “big data” being thrown around but ignored it, believing it’s got to be something for the big guys. However, a 2013 survey by Intuit showed big data could actually help small businesses level the playing field. Big data is the collection and analyzing of enormous volumes of data. If you had to do the legwork yourself, it could cost you all of your entire working capital, not to mention take all your time. The truth is, data is changing all the time so how can you ever hope to keep up?
Luckily there are ways that won’t cost you tons of money, but first let’s see how big data can help your small business. Consider these five points:
1. Build new products and services. If you are able to collect real-time data on what customers want, need and are buying, think of all the ways you can modify your current business to fit those needs.
2. Improve processes and save money. With specialized information at your disposal, you could streamline many of your procedures and perhaps eliminate waste.
3. Gain a competitive advantage. With big data on your side you can adapt to changes faster than your competitors.
4. Increase customer loyalty. Big data results allow your business to respond to customer demand quicker and more efficiently.
5. Increase sales. Of course, the bottom line is big data could be your solution to more sales and more profits.
Now, how to find, acquire and analyze big data for your small company? Try posting a temporary fact-finding job on TaskRabbit or Indeed.com. Be clear about what you expect and how long the project will last. Outsourcing to someone else can save you money by not having to hire a full-time employee.
You can also contact data brokers directly for the information you’re seeking. Companies like DataLogix track the spending habits of millions of households using sources such as store loyalty cards. DataLogix also partners with Twitter and Facebook to assess social media users’ spending habits. Although data brokers have come under a lot of scrutiny from consumers wanting their privacy, many data brokers partner with big companies that are acquiring your information anyway, such as Experian and Equifax.
Finally, you may already have tons of data at your disposal because you have been diligent about tracking your marketing efforts. If you want to have an expert analyze the data, you can do that, too. Google’s BigQuery lets you upload and store your data and then gives you real-time insights on what it all means.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.