October 31, 2014

How a Small Business Can Use Big Data

big data

Big data is big news in today’s digitized world. With the explosion of Internet usage and social media networks, there’s a massive cloud of data being generated about people all over the world, and it’s growing at an exponential rate.

Until recently, big data has been a mining center for big business to learn more about customer behaviors, desires, trends and browsing or buying patterns. It takes a sophisticated system and considerable computing power to sort through all that information and pull something useful out of it.

However, technology has advanced in power—and come down in price. Now, even small businesses can tap into the power of big data to improve the customer experience and boost bottom lines.

Analytics: The Key to Using Big Data

The term “big data” covers a lot of ground. Data is collected from every action that’s performed on an Internet-connected network—sending an email or tweet, posting to Facebook or a blog, commenting or rating, updating a profile, shopping online, using a cell phone or tablet, even swiping a credit card at a physical store. Every action generates a digital footprint that’s stored somewhere in the ether.

That’s a lot of data. To obtain useful information from this vast ocean, you’ll need some serious analytical power that can find the relevant bits and display them in a format you can understand. Fortunately, that power is both affordable and accessible through various platforms from free programs like Google Analytics to inexpensive business tools like customer relationship management (CRM) software.

What Can Your Small Business Do With Big Data?

If you’re looking to tap into the vast, rich landscape of big data, there are a number of avenues to explore.

Sort Through Your Social Media

You’re already connected to many of your customers through your business social media networks,aren’t you? Well, the data collection doesn’t have to stop there. Tools like Social Mention, Twilert, and Kurrently let you set up alerts and notifications whenever a subject is mentioned online like your business itself, the products or services you offer or any relevant keyword.

Once you start tracking these mentions, you can tailor your responses and conversations to build buzz, generate more interest and improve customer satisfaction and engagement.

Collect Customized Data With CRM

There are many inexpensive (even free) CRM systems that offer fully featured platforms to track interactions with customers and prospects. Programs such as Insightly, Zolo, and Nimble not only provide an inside line to big data, but also help you sort through it and pinpoint the most helpful information.

These platforms also include social media functionality, so you can streamline your big data collection from multiple sources.

Monitor and Mine Customer Calls

Whether you’re working with a few office lines, a VoIP system with mobile capabilities, or a third-party call center, customer service calls can be an important source of data. Be sure you’re collecting your call logs and analyzing the information.

Customer call data can help you:

  • Discover the demographics of your callers.
  • Identify the most common problems that result in a phone call.
  • Analyze inbound calling trends.
  • Optimize customer service through strategic call routing.

Many web-based VoIP systems include analytics and automated call logs, and they’re also an inexpensive solution for business voice needs.

How can your small business take advantage of big data?

Data Photo via Shutterstock

40 Comments ▼

Megan Totka


Megan Totka Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for Chamber of Commerce. Chamber specializes in helping SMB's grow their business on the Web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. Megan specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources and provides advice through her column on the Chamber blog.

40 Reactions

  1. I agree with the fact that big data is also suitable for smaller organisations, even if they do not have that much data. When combined with public data sets, it suddenly becomes big data. There are many different places where you can find public data sets. Find more information here: http://www.bigdata-startups.com/public-data/

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