Big Data for Small Businesses

Small business owners in the Dallas area and beyond should always incorporate data use strategies into their long-range planning. Yet many emerging entrepreneurs struggle with issues of cost and time when it comes to using big data, a buzzword for the rapidly proliferating and enormous aggregate sets of information created by consumers, businesses, and organizations of all kinds. A recent IBM study found that nine-tenths of all the data in existence today was created within the previous two years. Moreover, another 2.5 quintillion bytes are coming into being daily, generated by blog and social media posts, consumer spending events, interpersonal and interbusiness communications, and numerous other sources. Organizations such as the Dallas Big Data Meetup Group regularly exchange ideas on best practices in gathering and using these large data resources.

Some small business owners may not think that big data has any relevance to their day-to-day operations. However, big data-style analytics can be extremely useful for a company of any size. The ability to see market pattern shifts, consumer behavior trends, and new business opportunities can all come out of a scrutiny of the structured and unstructured massive data collections.

The phrase “big data” is a vague and relative term: For a small business, the size of the useful data can be proportional to its own size, and based on the proprietary information it has collected in the course of its own operations. The idea is to focus on the most cost-effective ways to mine the data that has relevance for each individual company.

In today’s quickly shifting technological landscape, a variety of tools offer affordable data-mining possibilities for small businesses. Google Adwords and Google Analytics are just two of the most popular such programs.

The Dallas Morning News and other media outlets recently pinpointed several practices that a company may want to follow when attempting to maximize the potential of big data. First, select one person or unit within the organization as the central conduit for data collection and control. Then go on to create an in-house group that will analyze the data and implement ongoing strategies based on its findings. Engage third-party suppliers and vendors to assist the company in organizing a data architecture plan. Additionally, be ready to balance consumer concerns about privacy with the desire for customized service and the very real business need to find scalable and actionable information.