Making Big Data User Friendly For Small Businesses

Big data isn’t just for big business. There's a lot of value when you combine big data and small business, but it needs to be done the right way.

What do you think of when you think of “big data?”

If you’re like most of us, you probably think of large-scale IT projects. You might think of detailed analytics that are designed to make your head spin.

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I mean, who needs to bother with all those annoying numbers, right?

Well, here’s the thing: big data isn’t just for big business. Big data is also important for small businesses.

If you’re not focusing enough on your analytics, you could be missing out on amazing growth opportunities for your business. You might be making decisions that hurt your business.

Big Data And Small Business

Big Data is by no means a new concept for most people in the business world. For many small businesses, the use of data technology has been mostly out of reach due to budget constraints and lack of in-house technical expertise.

If that’s the case for you and your business, you are a part of the 77 percent that don’t yet have a big data strategy. The emergence of self-service solutions, however, has been slowly opening the gates for small businesses and the opportunities to leverage internal data are growing.

Rita Sallam, VP of Research at Gartner, says that there are “approximately 70 percent of users in organizations that currently do not use BI tools or have statistical backgrounds.” Therefore, “New approaches have the potential to transform how and which users can derive insights from data discovery tools.”

If 70% of users were able to leverage big data insights without technical backgrounds, the impact on operations and revenue could be enormous. This is even more true for small businesses, as technical expertise is often siloed in IT departments.

That is why many startups are making data accessible to low-tech businesses. Uday Hegde is the CEO and Co-Founder of USEReady, a data analytics firm that helps businesses implement data solutions.

Hegde believes that self-service data is crucial for making business intelligence a reality for businesses of any size. “As self-service tools become more prevalent, non-technical employees can access data like never before. This helps executives at every level of the organization to conduct analysis and speed up the decision-making process.”

Making Data More User-Friendly

One of the biggest challenges to small businesses that are developing data analytics and business intelligence strategies is the way in which data insights are presented. Complicated excel sheets and poorly designed dashboards make it virtually impossible for non-IT professionals to use their data.

Self-service solutions are working to use better designing practices to help solve this problem. “By making data sets visual, business owners can start asking the right questions and making decisions based on hard facts rather than speculation.” Hegde explains. “The result is often better allocation of crucial technology, people, and resources.” The key is making data presentable so all stakeholders can use it.

A perfect example of how impactful data visualization techniques can be is this video from statistician and TED talker, Hans Rosling.

Zeroing in On the Right Kind of Data

Self-service data solutions are opening up new opportunities for businesses to figure out which data sets are the most useful. The number of vendors looking to help is always growing. Using data tools like Tableau, or CRM software like Hubspot, enable organizations to identify more specific data points to help them evaluate business performance.

Web traffic is a great example. It’s one of the most important pieces of data that a business owner can have. But for most organizations, it fails to offer any actionable insights. When a business owner is able to understand which demographics and customer segments are spending the most time on her website, she can use this data to improve her marketing efforts.

Tracking Year-Over-Year Data

It is not uncommon for small businesses to operate without large amounts of historical data. However, self-service tools are allowing them to collect information over much longer periods of time. This helps business owners create a better picture of long-term growth that goes deeper than traditional revenue or P&L numbers.

By tracking historical data, companies can begin to evaluate the success of key business decisions, both in the short and long-term. Executives can avoid costly errors based on information from previous initiatives that performed poorly. Additionally, they could identify which parts of the business are most profitable and identify new ways to expand those services.

Small businesses that successfully deploy self-service data solutions can enjoy increased profits and reduced risk by identifying problems sooner rather than later. Hegde asserts that “all businesses need a clear data strategy to create a competitive advantage.” As the technology continues to develop and the number of providers catering to businesses of all sizes increase, it can be expected that data will continue to be one of the most important assets an organization can have.

Final Thoughts

Most small business owners assume that “big data” is for “big business.” But it’s not true. If you are able to improve the way your business looks at its metrics, you can make better decisions. You can avoid taking actions that waste time and money. In the end, a better business intelligence strategy will make your company more effective.

Data Photo via Shutterstock 4 Comments ▼

Jeff Charles Jeff Charles is the founder of Artisan Owl Media, an Austin-based content marketing agency that specializes in helping professional service firms increase their influence and earn more clients.

4 Reactions
  1. I’ll be attending a big data analytics course and I am excited. I think it will help me not only in managing data but also in securing it.

  2. Glad to see more companies coming “down” to the SMB space with their BI solutions. SMBs need help with this and it needs to be affordable.

  3. Excellent article. A simpler explanation than I could muster trying to explain to my non-data business pals about my Data Business MSc ?

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