Big data is a scary prospect for a lot of small businesses. Internet of Things is still a relatively new and expensive concept. While it stands to reason that big data can probably inform your business strategy, it probably feels like it won’t be worth the cost for some time. That’s often true for projects that require attaching smart, connected gadgets to every piece of your business, but big data is a broader and more accessible tool than that. No matter how small your business is, there are a few easy and affordable ways to incorporate big data and improve your bottom line.
This is where most small businesses first dip their toes into the near-infinite waters of big data. Google Analytics and a countless number of clones and supplemental packages make it pretty easy to take your first foray into this bright new world. Since every single modern business has an online presence as a matter of necessity, it doesn’t take much to apply deep analytics to that online presence to maximize profits, return on investments and at least a dozen other key metrics.
Marketing analysis can take a detailed look at how each individual interacts with your website, social media, advertising and other components of your online existence. It can combine that research with overarching marketing trends for your industry, and it can help you identify what is and isn’t working in your overall strategy.
Data can pinpoint easy opportunities for improvement, and it can even guide you through long-term planning and future endeavors.
TWO. Industry Analytics
Industry-level analytics is an intuitive next step after applying big data to your marketing plan. The obvious goal would be to look at marketing trends across your industry to adapt your own small-business plan, but this is just step one. Industry analytics can give unbiased insight into the strategies of competitors. You can learn from other businesses in terms of marketing, research and development, logistics, shipping, labor and anything else that is involved in the process of turning a profit.
The basic point is that industry-level analytics are designed to learn from what everyone else in your field is doing to inform your own decisions. In some cases, you might copy ideas, but in many others, you will be dodging common pitfalls.
THREE. Merchant Analytics
At first glance, this might seem like another word for industry-level market analysis. While that isn’t completely wrong, the point of view misses an important point. Merchant analytics is a breakdown of how consumers spend money. It’s one of the most important pieces of information for almost any business, and it has developed in a few important ways. Major merchants, or credit card companies, used to reserve this information exclusively for the massive corporations that could afford to pay for it. Today, there are a fair number of research groups that can offer merchant analytics to small businesses at affordable rates.
Unless your business deliberately excludes working with a public marketplace, this is some of the most important big data you can ever obtain.
FOUR. Conducting Studies
For most small businesses, the largest barrier of entry to utilizing big data is obtaining the raw data. Internet of Things and comparable methodologies can be expensive. A local bookstore might have trouble justifying putting smart technology into every nook and cranny of their operation. That is where studies come to play. Research organizations can be hired to ascertain objective, data-based information on any topic. These studies can be surprisingly affordable, and they represent a one-time cost that is often appealing over the long-term prices of self-managed big data endeavors.
Have a study done on any part of your business that is uncertain, and you will quickly find ways to improve revenue, cut costs or otherwise boost profits.
FIVE. Personnel and Management
Alongside market analysis, this is one of the most accessible branches of big data. If you do any amount of digital record keeping, then there is surprisingly affordable software that can help you with basic management. If you aren’t keeping any digital records, you probably should be. Management software can organize your raw information and help you see it in new ways. You can break down scheduling, staffing, payment methodologies, safety, general inefficiencies and anything else that comes to mind. Analyzing your management from top to bottom will help you find placed to make cuts, and it will identify places of opportunity for internal investment.
There really isn’t a business out there that can’t benefit from a deep look at management structure and applications, and it’s an easy way to make your business run like a well-oiled machine.
These five components of big data are some of the most accessible, but they are far from an exhaustive list. For many small businesses, investing in a few smart devices can still yield big returns. More importantly, big data is evolving every day. By the end of the next year, there is no telling how many new tools will be available to help you make informed choices at every level of your operation.
The most important thing you can do to stay ahead of the game is to remain informed. Keep reading; keep learning, and never stop pursuing a better version of your business.
About the Author: Chantel Soumis
Chantel Soumis brings over a decade of knowledge in workflow enhancement through the use of technology. Chantel studied marketing communications and business administration at Franklin University and proceeded to work in a fast, ambitious environment, assuring client delight in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Passionate about project productivity and streamlining workflows through the use of technology, Chantel strives to inform organizations of Valicom’s advanced telecom expense management software and services by mastering communications and messaging while delivering helpful information and supporting resources.