Small But Mighty – How Big Data Benefits Small Business

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Want your small business to have a bigger presence and compete more strongly with the big boys and girls in your market? One way to get there is to take advantage of the technology solutions available at no or low cost. If you haven’t yet gotten on-board with all things digital, you’re not the only one. According to a report by Thomas Oppong, founder of AllTopStartups, many business owners are slow to adopt digital technology because of concerns about business process costs or growing short-term revenues. But there are tactics and dedicated software you can use to help you on your big data journey. You just need to know where to look — and the right strategies to help you along the way.

Increase customer insight 

Making the most of big data is all about finding the right opportunities. Small-sized companies can learn from the masses of information readily available to them, starting from an asset, the majority, if not all, companies have: their website.

You don’t need fancy software or a team of data scientists to get great customer insights. Many smaller businesses can simply extract data from their website to acquire specific information, which is one of the best ways to make smarter and more efficient business decisions.

You can monitor your website by using Google analytics, Google’s free Web-traffic-monitoring tool. It provides all types of data about website visitors using a multitude of metrics and traffic sources to help you learn beneficial information about potential customers.

Small businesses can use public data sets and analyze these to gather change-driving insights, too. For instance, a new dress store could easily optimize stock based on predictive models generated from their social media pages and web search trends.

Personalize your strategy

Online technology expert SAS Corporation says with data constantly flowing in and out of an organization, it’s important to establish processes to help you monitor and maintain data quality. For example, you’ve enticed visitors to your website — great!  But what do you want them to do now they’re here? Your analytics goals should be based on the movements you want site visitors to take.

Obviously, this goes beyond looking for hits on your site. You should consider specific goal-focused questions, before finalizing any key performance indicators. Are you inviting visitors to purchase your product, or is there specific content you want them to download?

Once you know the questions you want answered and the site pages you need to monitor, you’ll be better positioned to identify and target customers more efficiently and to develop better marketing strategies.

Embrace quick thinking

Arnie Gordon, president of Arlyn Scales, recently wrote for Forbes on why big data is particularly useful to small businesses. One of his main points was how using it can be beneficial if you want to receive high-quality information in a timelier manner.

Using this type of machine-learning means you can adapt to real-time changes and make adjustments immediately. This is something bigger corporations often struggle with due to stricter compliance and more traditional workplace hierarchies.

This can make your site more appealing to certain users because you’re able to take actions that aren’t only swift but also tailored to the specific interests of your browsers. For example, you can send site visitors a coupon or discount code for products they’ve shown interest in, and increase the chances of a sale.

Make team work the dream work

Today cloud storage providers such as Amazon Cloud Services have grown rapidly in creating cloud and data storage for small businesses. Providing access to centralized files and data used to mean pricey software subscriptions and consulting time.

But recent advances in cloud services mean they’re not only more affordable, you can now open files on any computer anywhere in the world — even when you’re offline. Often you just need the Internet and a small subscription fee to use these services.

Many subscriptions offer shared folders, so you and your staff can work on presentations together without the version control and bandwidth issues of emailing versions back and forth.

Big data is fast becoming a crucial asset for small businesses. It can help boost growth and enables smaller players to compete with much larger organizations. Your company may be small, but by making use of correct data analytics, it’s future can certainly be big.

About the Author

Charlene Glidden is Vice President, Business Planning and Technology Strategy at Colonial Life. Glidden is responsible for ensuring the company business strategy is realized through sound business and technology investments made through effective planning and technology execution. She also is accountable for providing data and analytics services within the company. Colonial Life is a market leader in providing financial protection benefits through the workplace, including disability, life, accident, dental, cancer, critical illness and hospital confinement indemnity insurance. The company’s benefit services and education, innovative enrollment technology and personal service support more than 86,000 businesses and organizations, representing 3.7 million of America’s workers and their families.


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