How does “big data” apply to small and mid-sized companies?
- On October 1, 2015
- In General
- By Michael Bamberger
There’s no such thing as too small when it comes to a company leveraging “big data”
In many ways, “big data” has followed a similar trajectory to social media and mobile: starting as buzzwords and ending up as an elemental part of modern consumerism. Social media and mobile devices are ubiquitous and readily apparent. Though “big data” is certainly just as ubiquitous, it’s not so apparent to the average person.
The collection and analysis of data sets of unfathomable size and scope continues to shape and alter the products we buy and the way they are sold to us.
The most well versed companies when it comes to big data like Amazon, Google and Wal-Mart use data to power their businesses and optimize all of their activity. Instead of relying on intuition or old-fashioned market reading methods like focus groups and regional testing, companies now draw conclusions from actual consumer behavior.
How can smaller companies leverage data?
Just because you don’t have thousands of customers and millions of data points doesn’t mean your business can’t use big data techniques to help improve your products and processes.
Here are some easy steps to get started leveraging the principles of big data to benefit your organization:
1. Start measuring, stop guessing
The foremost lesson from the big data era is that information is essential for understanding your business. Learn to measure every area of your business: from your supply chain all the way through your website. If you can measure it, you can improve it.
2. Testing is the best way to optimize
In every area of your business you can measure, the best way to vastly increase your metrics is typically by testing. For instance, get your sales team to try two different introductory explanations on phone calls. Keep track of the success of these phone calls and see if a new way of starting a conversation has a positive effect on your sales team’s close rate.
3. Don’t gather data for the sake of data
Data and information overload can be all too common when a company starts trying to learn about itself quantitatively. Try understanding the most important data in your business and focus on only key metrics. Define your key performance indicators (KPIs) and make them the basis for the data you collect.
4. Listen first, act second
An incomplete dataset is nearly as bad as no data at all. When you first implement data gathering tools and processes, don’t rush to start analyzing the data and trying to draw conclusions. Oftentimes, you can draw incorrect conclusions because you simply looked at the data far too early. Let your data collect over time and you’ll put yourself in a better position to make sound decisions.
5. Nothing is above analysis and improvement
Far too often, the status quo affects the way a company perceives its data. Even though the information you collect may clearly indicate that a change needs to be made to your product, service or process, it’s often very hard to change what you’ve been doing. Make sure you hold nothing in your company as sacred and above what the data indicate. Let proof justify your reasoning and your business will be better for it.